"It shocks me how few people read The Hot Zone when they were ten years old like I did. I just broke the news of how Ebola works to someone. They aren’t happy.”
"A great cleansing fire of Ebola. Yeah, how was every kid not obsessed with lethal monkey disease?”
"Who am I to not be into cleansing fires? And yeah. Come on, people.”
In 6th grade, I learned the word “slough” from reading The Hot Zone.
Oh hey, thanks to Google Books I found the exact passage!
…The red spots on the skin grow and spread and merge to become huge, spontaneous bruises, and the skin goes soft and pulpy, and can tear off if it is touched with any kind of pressure. Your mouth bleeds, and you bleed around your teeth, and you may have hemorrhages from the salivary glands—literally every opening in the body bleeds, no matter how small. The surface of the tongue turns brilliant red and then sloughs off, and is swallowed or spat out. It is said to be extraordinarily painful to lose the surface of one’s tongue. The tongue’s skin may be torn off during rushes of the black vomit. The back of the throat and the lining of the windpipe may also slough off, and the dead tissue slides down the windpipe into the lungs or is coughed up with sputum. Your heart bleeds into itself; the heart muscle softens and has hemorrhages into its chambers, and blood squeezes out of the hear muscle as the heart beats, and it floods the chest cavity. The brain becomes clogged with dead blood cells, a condition known as sludging of the brain…
…The kidneys become jammed with blood clots and dead cells, and cease functioning. As the kidneys fail, the blood becomes toxic with urine. The spleen turns into a single, huge, hard blood clot the size of a baseball. The intestines may fill up completely with blood. The lining of the gut dies and sloughs off into the bowels and is defecated along with large amounts of blood.
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, p. 106 and 108
And it just continues like this, describing the symptoms of Ebola vividly for page after page.
This is what we read before the existence of Harry Potter.