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Next Killer Flu
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In some cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.
Photograph by Randy Olson

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Next Killer Flu On Assignment Photographer
On Assignment Next Killer Flu On Assignment
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    Sometimes it's not easy for a photographer and writer to travel together—our needs, even when working with the same subjects, are so different. This was my first assignment with senior editor Tim Appenzeller, and it was one of those collaborations that really clicked. I sat in on his interviews, and he was present while I was shooting. We constantly talked about the story, and I think that helped us carry through our commitment to this assignment from beginning to end.
    I spent six hours at a hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, where a young man named Nguyen Si Tuan lay in critical condition with avian flu (See pages 22-23 in the October issue. The entire room was emotionally charged as the doctors tried to save him, and Tuan's family stood by.
I felt as if I was treading a very fine line between being compassionate and capturing photographs that showed the destructive nature of the H5N1 virus. These kinds of situations are always difficult, and every photographer deals with them differently. I suppose some distance themselves, but I tried to be totally open. Turning off my heart would have been unfair since Tuan's family was allowing me to be there.  
    When I left the hospital, the doctors didn't expect Tuan to live, so I was certain that he had died. I didn't find out until months later that he was one of the lucky few who had actually survived. So in one way, "worst" moved up to the "best" list.
    I went to a tiger zoo in Thailand and saw an odd live exhibit with two dogs, a pig, and a tiger in a small enclosure. Then there was a sign on the glass that read "Happy Family." It was really popular, but despite the sign, these animals looked a little less than happy.
    At times, I even saw the tiger trying to attack one of the dogs. I never figured out what the exhibit was supposed to mean.

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