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The Cobra Event is the story of a secret counter-terror operation. It is set in motion one spring morning in New York City when a seventeen-year-old student wakes up feeling vaguely ill. She seems to be coming down with a cold. Hours later she is having violent seizures, blood is pouring out of her nose, and she has begun a hideous process of self-cannibalization. Soon, other gruesome deaths of a similar nature have been discovered, and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta sends a forensic pathologist. an expert in epidemiology, to investigate. What she finds precipitates a federal crisis.

The details of this story are fictional, but they are based on a scrupulously thorough inquiry into the history of biological weapons and their use by civilian and military terrorists. "The creation of advanced biological weapons using methods of genetic engineering and biotechnology is sometimes known as 'black biology,'" Richard Preston writes. The extent to which the products of black biology are available nearly everywhere in the world is shocking. Preston's sources for his story include members of the FBI and the United States military, public health officials, intelligence officers in foreign governments, and scientists who have been involved in the development and testing of strategic bioweapons. The stories of what they have seen and what they expect to happen and how they plan to deal with it are chilling.

The Cobra Event is not science fiction. It is a dramatic, heart-stopping account of a very real threat, told with the skill and authority that made Richard Preston's The Hot Zone an internationally acclaimed bestseller.

Fatal cases of smallpox virus (Variola virus) during the 1970s. Some experts believe that military strains of smallpox have been developed and tested in special weapons-test chambers at the Institute of Molecular Biology in Koltsovo, Russia. An international black market for smallpox strains has developed. Most people on earth have no immunity to smallpox, even those who have had shots, because the vaccine wears off after 10 to 20 years.

Classic fatal smallpox.

Hemorrhagic smallpox; about one hour before death. Thick hemorrhage occuring in the mouth and from the lungs. Smallpox virus is extremely contagious in the air

Fatal hemorrhagic smallpox in a twelve-year-old girl, 1970s, Bangladesh. A genetically - engineered strain of smallpox might produce unusual symptoms such as these. Here, the eyes are filled with blood, and blood blisters form in the mouth and inside the body.


Hemorrhagic smallpox.