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All 50 states fear West Nile threat

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NEW YORK, Jun 21, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The continental United States is bracing for a widespread outbreak of West Nile disease, The New York Times reported Saturday.

It has been only four years since the disease made its first appearance in the northern hemisphere, killing four people in Queens, N.Y.

The mosquito-borne disease hit 39 states last year and claimed 284 lives, the newspaper said. This year, all 50 states are warning of an outbreak from any of the 30 mosquito species known to carry it.

Although no people have caught West Nile yet this year, it has shown up in animals across the country, the Times said.

"It's just a matter of time before we have the first human case," said Michael L. Bunning, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Infectious Diseases.

There is no vaccine for humans and quarantining is ineffective because it is carried by birds and mosquitoes.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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