Can Cambodia Eradicate the World’s Most Fatal Disease?

In rural Svay Rieng Province, a few kilometers from the Vietnam border, Kat Chang, 50, solemnly tours her family’s farmland, recounting the events leading up to her husband’s death.

In May 2019, Chang’s spouse Toun Sarith, 48, had moved to their farmhouse away from town. Rice planting season was a busy time for the couple, who supported themselves and their children with their annual harvest. Sarith was perplexed by a dog that had started sleeping near the farmhouse — family and neighbors who were feeding it were also unsure where the dog had come from.

Early one morning as he began planting, Sarith heard screaming, and saw the dog attacking a young girl near their field. Sarith rushed to help, deciding the family could not risk keeping this dangerous dog. As he intervened, it clamped its jaws around his arm, biting him deeply. The girl escaped with a few scratches, was rushed to get medical treatment and survived. After he and Chang euthanised the dog, Sarith was prescribed a treatment made of dog hair by a traditional local healer, and continued to work despite his injuries.

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