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SUSAN ASCHOFF and Times wires
Published September 2, 2003

WEST NILE VIRUS appears to have Colorado in its sights this summer, while sparing Florida. Colorado had reported more than 260 cases, including six deaths, by mid August. Florida had four cases, none fatal, thus far this year.

Human cases of the mosquito-borne disease were not documented in the Western hemisphere until 1999. By 2002, it had spread to 44 states, with 4,156 cases reported nationwide and 284 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus, transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that typically become infected from feeding on sick birds, cannot be passed person to person. Most people will show no symptoms. Others suffer from fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash and other flulike symptoms. Less than 1 percent will develop potentially fatal meningitis or encephalitis.

Researchers are testing a vaccine for horses and one for birds, but there is no vaccination to prevent West Nile Virus in humans.

AFRICAN-AMERICANS FACE a higher likelihood of developing cancer and lower chances of survival than whites, according to American Cancer Society statistics published in the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute newsletter.

African-Americans are more likely to develop cancer than any other racial group in the United States. Reasons are complex, ranging from genetics to lifestyle to income, experts believe. Availability of health care is key: Among U.S. military personnel, who have equal access to health care, breast cancer survival rates for African-American women are the same as for white women. In the general population, African-American women are nearly twice as likely as whites to die from the disease.

This year Moffitt established an Office of Institutional Diversity to address diversity issues in research, outreach, patient care and among employees and faculty.

WHEN ASTHMA GRIPS the lungs, close to 300 genes misbehave, new research suggests.

The findings could point to new therapies for asthma, which is on the rise in the United States.

In particular, the scientists noticed that genes that help break down a dietary compound called arginine were especially active. One of the genes related to arginine was also especially active in lungs of people with asthma. So a drug that targets that gene could help treat the disease.

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