On the Trail of an Asian Contagion

She is one of the lucky ones, though the 55-year-old woman lying in her narrow metal bed in the pneumonia ward of Guangzhou's Nanfang Hospital doesn't look it. Ye Qitian's breath comes in ragged gasps, her gray-white hair is bedraggled, and she can only open her right eye halfway as she speaks to visitors. On a rainy afternoon last week, the Chinese housewife says she is recovering from what her doctors have identified as atypical pneumonia, a mysterious disease that has plagued southern China for months and is suspected to have erupted into the outside world in late February. In the...

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