Saturday, March 04, 2006
THE KILLER FLU
In Southeast Asia a virus that kills chickens is now also killing people. The race is on to keep the bird flu from ravaging the world.
Little Ngoan was buried behind her parents' hut three weeks ago. Her grave, a bulky concrete tomb like others dotting the Vietnamese countryside, rests on high ground between a fishpond and yellow-green rice fields. At one end her family laid out her cherished possessions: a doll's chair, a collection of shells, plastic sandals. They painted her tomb powder blue.
While Ngoan's parents are off helping with the rice harvest, other relatives share their memories. "She was so small, just ten years old," says her grandmother, sitting on a hammock. "She was very gentle and a good student. If you look at her older sister"—the 17-year-old hangs back shyly—"you can imagine what she was like." Ngoan's grandfather, silent with grief, lights a stick of incense at her grave.
The loss of a beloved child has hit this family hard. But ordinarily, the wider world would pay little attention to a child's death from infectious disease in this remote corner of Vietnam's Mekong Delta. Old scourges like dengue fever and typhoid still take a toll here, and HIV/AIDS is on the rise.... (Full Article @ http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0510/feature1/)