A Sickness Spreads

When Somsak Laemphakwan's chickens started dying in early August, he buried the corpses deep in the ground, hoping to halt the bird flu ravaging his village in northwest Thailand. It didn't work. Later that month, his 11-year-old niece Sakuntala Premphasri developed a stomachache and a high fever. When Somsak took her to a nearby clinic on Sept. 2, nurses dismissed her illness as a common cold. Five days later Sakuntala was back in the clinic, unable to walk and vomiting blood. She was sent to the district hospital, and her mother, Pranee Thongchan, was summoned from Bangkok to comfort her. Pranee...

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