Parents' Guide to

The Hot Zone

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Harrowing drama about first U.S. Ebola outbreak is violent.

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This intense real-life story highlights how ill-prepared federal and military agencies were when the Ebola virus appeared on U.S. soil for the first time. It also shows the extreme reactions people had to the outbreak despite knowing little about it, thanks to media hype and the mass panic surrounding AIDS at that time. Also interesting is the series' secondary storyline, which comes in the form of flashbacks to 1976, during the first EVD outbreak in Africa. It's here where Drs. Carter and Rhodes (who, unlike Nancy Jaax and Peter Jahrling, are fictional characters) see the disease manifest itself firsthand, and experience frightening and tragic dramatic moments.

Their journey also points to the fact that Ebola is more deadly to the poor than it is to those who have access to good medical care. But despite the lessons The Hot Zone offers, you have to question how much has been learned when recalling the media hype and national panic caused by more recent EVD outbreaks. Nonetheless, it dramatically reminds us that all diseases eventually return, and that it's necessary to be prepared to effectively deal with them when they do.

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