It's Gone Viral

I'd like to say that we saw it coming, but the truth is that the TIME staff in Hong Kong — where I was working as a reporter in the spring of 2003 — were as caught off guard as everyone else. We heard reports about unusual illnesses in the mainland Chinese cities across the border and market runs on vinegar, which the Cantonese believe can ward off respiratory disease when boiled. We even sent a reporter to hospitals in neighboring Guangzhou, where the sick were piling up. But it wasn't until doctors and nurses started to fall ill in Hong...

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