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Kel said, "That's a relief, this summer
there are insects a plenty. Glad they aren't
a factor we're going to have to worry about
here." Then he noticed the others watching
quietly from where they were. "Oh. Sorry
all. " He gave introductions to the rest of
the room,..
"Everyone, this is Doctor Jamie MacPherson,
head of the Special Pathogens Branch in

Roy and Johnny nodded. And so did everyone
else but their uncertain looks remained on their
faces, each looking emotionally worn in the
dim battery light of the room.

Dr. Brackett turned to Jamie's companion,
"And this is her assistant head, Dr. Steven Taylor.
These two are the people with whom I spoke
this afternoon after we concluded your rescue call

The others didn't have anything to say, reduced
to a slightly fearful silence by the frightening
advancing reality of the circumstances
surrounding them.

"Gentlemen and maam.." Jamie said.
"I know it's a little startling, having us appear
like this, off a hightech, night flying helicopter,
suddenly invading the scene in the midst
of an already ongoing disaster. Myself and
my associate are both geared like this strictly
for precautionary measures. I'm happy to
say it's been looking more and  more that,
whatever the contagion is, it infects
only by direct body fluid transmission. So some
of you who didn't handle Mr. Lopez may
eventually prove to be uninfected.
 This mode of transmission is collaborated
by the fact that the seven other
Mexican victims have all have been reliably
reported as having physically touched
Benardo, as they prepared him for burial."

Gil spoke up. "H-how do you explain Marco falling
sick then? He arrived there much later according
to Roy here.."

Jamie cast her eyes down. "The boy's mother
said he kissed Bernardo on the cheek before
the casket was covered.."

"Is she one who's sick?" Johnny asked. "I--
I mean, if Marco wakes up, he's gonna wanna
know.." he said softly..

"Yes, Mr. Gage." Steven said. His suit crinkled
as he sat on a stool at Marco's bedside, to
read the chart Doctor Brackett and the
paramedics were keeping on Marco. "She
was still alive last report, as of a half hour

Miss Thorne timidly wrapped herself tighter
in her wool blanket. "Is there anything
you've found that may... prevent or slow this
disease yet?"

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"Miss Thorne, we can't treat for anything yet
beyond standard life supporting measures until
we know exactly what it is we're dealing with here."
Jamie said. "The wrong medication or antibiotic
could alter immunophysiologic responses and
actually allow this unknown disease to run its
course even faster instead of buying any time."
she answered.

Gil asked one more question. "Has anyone
infected held up in the face of this disease?
Any one recovering?"

Dr. MacPherson sighed. "No. That's what made
us tentatively classify this outbreak as a possible
Grade Four."

"Grade Four?" Roy asked, "Forgive me for being
ignorant but I'm unfamiliar with that terminology."
he said, trying to smile without nervousness.
"It must be something my partner and I don't deal with
in the field working as paramedics.."

"So you two are the ones who directly cared
for Mr. Lopez? I need to ask you a few more
details once Dr. Taylor and I get set up here.
But to answer your question..."
Jamie looked up from where she was skillfully
drawing a blood sample off Marco, even with
her suit's gloves on. "That ranking means
a germ with a very high virulence and killing
factor, Mr. DeSoto. There are only six known
illnesses in this category that we know about,
that have rapid fever with bleeding with its onset.
Machupo Plague, Lassa Fever, Nipah virus,
Hendra virus, Junin Plague, and the last,
is one newly discovered, the Ebola virus.."

"Ebola...." Chet said with rising fright. "I've heard
of that. Oh, man.. it wiped out a whole village
in West Africa last year.. Is that what Marco's got?"

Jamie raised a gloved hand. "No,.." she insisted.
"This body rash doesn't come with Ebola. This strain's
new or rare. All we know is that it takes effect very
very quickly and that it is a hemorrhagic syndrome
type virus.  Most likely in the Flavivirus family.
Also, there's every chance that this bug may be
another mutation of Dengue Fever, in its stronger
variant , which is only fatal 30% of the time.
Of those, there have been seventeen types of
DHF discovered in the last ten years."

Cap blinked, "Ok,.. Just ah, what can we do
here to help you doctors out? I know
for myself I want to do more than just lie
around waiting for answers." He had been
awake ever since the helicopter's motor
blade noise woke him up.

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