Chapter One of “The Hot Zone” by Robert Preston is entitled “Something in the Forest,” and it tells the story of the first man to contract a strain of the Marburg virus known as Ebola Sudan. It establishes the setting of western Kenya on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, 1979. Charles Monet, a French expatriate who has relocated to Kenya to work on a sugar plantation, is preparing for an overnight trip to Mount Elgon with his girlfriend.
Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano on the border between Kenya and Uganda. After spending the night on the volcano, the couple stops to explore a nearby rain forest and Kitum Cave. Inside the cave, Monet realizes the floor is covered with a dark, slimy substance that he presumes is bat guano. A few days after returning home, Monet develops a severe headache that grows more intense and prevents him from returning to work. His condition deteriorates and by the following morning, his eyes have turned red, his skin has turned yellow and he begins vomiting uncontrollably.
When his co-workers visit and see his condition, they drive him to a private hospital in the nearby city of Kisumu. The doctors at Kisumu have no idea how to diagnose or treat Monet and refer him to a hospital in Nairobi. Monet flies to Nairobi and begins vomiting blood, but he makes it to the hospital.
While sitting in the hospital waiting room, his spine goes limp and he begins bleeding through every orifice while vomiting and expelling pieces of his internal organs from his mouth and anus. His body eventually goes limp and he collapses into a coma on the hospital floor.