Fox's television studio has been developing an adaptation of the best-selling 1994 Ebola chronicle "The Hot Zone" for more than a year, the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc-owned company said on Friday.
"It's a strange and upsetting coincidence that we all happen to be experiencing this current scare, and we're of course extremely sensitive about it," Executive Producer Lynda Obst, who is developing the project with Fox TV Studios and "Alien" director Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions, said in a statement.
"While we are far from a finished product that, regardless, would never air during this current news cycle, I do think Preston's take is illuminating, particularly with some distance," Obst said.
If the adaptation of Richard Preston's non-fiction thriller about viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola makes it into production, it will likely be as a limited-run series, Fox TV Studios said. The book describes the discovery of a virus related to Ebola in a primate quarantine facility in Reston, Virginia in 1989.
The current Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people since March, mostly in the three impoverished West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.
Fears that the outbreak would spread outside of that region have grown since a nurse in Spain became infected, a Liberian man died Oct. 8 in Dallas, Texas and two of the nurses who treated him were also diagnosed with the illness.
A series developed by Fox's TV studio also does not guarantee that it would be broadcast on one of its parent company's networks in the United States as it could be sold to another network. Preston's book has become one of the best-selling books on online retailer Amazon two decades after its initial release.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Grant McCool)