Ebola, anyone?

Bring out your deadOut of the rainforests of Africa, came Ebola. Out of the rainforests of Washington State, comes the Neah Virus!

With awful news coming out of Africa on a daily basis lately, it seems I crafted a very timely story when I wrote my medical thriller, The Neah Virus.

Almost daily someone asks what it would be like if such a deadly virus broke out in America. Well, no need to speculate further. Just pick up a copy of The Neah Virus and find out!

the culpritAs in all my mysteries and medical thrillers, I follow the exploits of Dr. Peyton McKean, a vaccine researcher and sometimes medical miracle worker.

In this story, a virus breaks out at the farthest tip of the Olympic Peninsula and spreads lethal contagion on a crash course for Seattle and every big city beyond. McKean is dispatched by the Centers for Disease Control to try to identify the source and find a cure. Along the way, his own life comes under mortal threat.

The Neah Virus is available in all popular ebook formats and in paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets. Here’s a sample of an early moment as events are just beginning to unfold:

“Rabies!” I exclaimed. “So that’s what made Pete Whitehall go mad!”

“That makes some sense,” McKean allowed, “given Whitehall’s violent behavior. But this is not exactly rabies virus.”

“That makes me all the more nervous,” I said.

“I would conclude that this virus is indeed a member of the lyssavirus family,” McKean said, “but the DNA probes say it’s not authentic rabies. Maybe it’s a distant family member.”

“Family member? You mean there are other rabies viruses?”

“Oh, most assuredly,” said McKean. “Rabies belongs to a large group of related viruses, the mononegavirales, which include the rabies-like animal viruses Mokola, Duvenhage, and West Caucasian bat virus, as well as more distant cousins like measles, mumps, and Ebola.”

“Ebola!” I exclaimed. “Now you’ve got me scared.”

Janet added, “We didn’t test for all those viruses because we didn’t have the full set of virus microchips.”

“But you can get more?”

“Certainly,” she replied. “And we can keep looking until we find a set of viral DNA probes that match this virus exactly.”

“And if none match?”

“Then we’re looking at a previously unknown virus,” said McKean. He put a hand on Janet’s shoulder and his eyes lit with inspiration. “Imagine discovering a whole new member of the lyssavirus family.”

Janet smiled. “We could co-author a paper.”

“A whole series of articles,” McKean replied enthusiastically. “Or publish a book!”

“But wait a minute,” I said, interrupting their happy communion. “If it’s related to the rabies virus, it might be deadly. It killed the Spaniard, didn’t it?”

“Deadly? Quite possibly,” said McKean, his smile diminishing.

“If it killed the Spaniard,” I pressed him, “and if it killed Pete Whitehall, then—”

McKean’s smile disappeared and the light of scientific excitement faded from his eyes. “Then,” he concluded for me, “you and I may have been exposed to something dangerous.”

“And Gordon Steel’s claim of a Lost Souls disease—”

“Might have a basis in fact. But let’s not get ahead of our data.” He turned to Janet. “You can get microchips from Kay Erwin at Seattle Public Health Hospital covering every known mononegavirus. Let’s rule them all in or out. After that, we can decide whether or not we’ve got something new.”

My heart rate had kicked up several notches. “Are we in danger?” I asked.

McKean thought for a moment and then murmured, “Answer: unknown.”

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes Peyton McKean mystery stories and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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