After a 28 year old virus resurfaces, Sam Daniels, played by Dustin Hoffman, is called in to gather as much information about the possible dangers that may be lurking for anyone coming in contact with it. Unknown to the employee at one of the animal holding facilities, who decides to steal one of the white-headed capuchin monkeys, it is the host of the killer virus, and in turn caused the employee to become infected with the virus. When the initial virus was discovered 28 years earlier, a bombing raid was ordered in the hopes of covering up the discovery, and any evidence that may have been left behind.
The name of the virus is Motaba, and it has managed to make it to Cedar Creek by way of the exotic monkey. After trying to sell the animal to a local pet store, the two are now infected with the virus, and the monkey escapes in the neighborhood. Daniels has gotten wind of the weird symptoms of the two men through the CDC, and he managed to narrow the host down to the monkey. A photograph is broadcasted over the television, and at the same time, through the corner of her eye, a concerned mother observes her daughter trying to get the monkey's attention in the back yard.
The entire town of Cedar Creek has been shut down and all the residents are being evaluated for possible contamination. Both Daniels and his wife are spearheading the research to deal with the virus. The dangers of this virus spreading to other areas of the United States have become so real that the president is considering carpet bombing the entire town of Cedar Creek, and stop the virus dead in its tracks. Daniels old partner, Major General Donald "Donnie" McClintock, played by Donald Sutherland, is now in a position to oversee the entire operation. He is determined to follow through with another bombing, regardless of the casualty count.