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August 17, 1984

A Wet Mouse

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1984;252(7):901. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350070019016

It was summer in the Mekong Delta. Miles of rice paddies, crisscrossed by canals, lay under humid, motionless air. Midday temperatures were 110 degrees. I was in the provincial hospital in Bac Lieu, South Viet Nam, located 120 miles southwest of Saigon, on the southeastern coast of that war-torn country. Not far to the west lay the U Minh forest, sanctuary of the Viet Cong.

I had flown to Viet Nam the month before. I was one of a group of the American Medical Association's Volunteer Physicians for Viet Nam. Dr Meritt Stark, a Denver pediatrician, and I had been assigned to go to Bac Lieu, a city of 60,000 people. He was a pediatrician and I was a surgeon. We were to work with the Vietnamese chef du medicin Dr Nguyen Thu Vinh and the US Army doctors of the 51st Advisory Team. The only American troops in Bac