Archive for Saturday, January 24, 2004


January 24, 2004



Bird flu epidemic expands, one human death suspected

Thailand and Cambodia confirmed bird flu outbreaks Friday, bringing the number of Asian nations hit by the virus to six. World health officials recommended quarantining people as an ailing Thai man died -- the country's first suspected bird flu death.

Thailand is now the second country where people, not just chickens, have come down with the illness recently. The other is Vietnam, where the virus has claimed five lives.

Together with the re-emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome, also a flu-like illness, Asia is on a regionwide health alert.


Convict freed after state admits mismatched print

A man sentenced to at least 35 years in prison for shooting a police officer was freed Friday after prosecutors learned that a fingerprint used at his trial belonged to someone else.

Prosecutors sought the release of Stephan Cowans, 33, hours after test results indicated that a fingerprint taken from the scene of the shooting was not his.

"There was a good-faith, human mistake," said prosecutor David Meier. Meier told a judge he would not seek a new trial.

Cowans, who was convicted in 1998, was accused of grabbing Sgt. Greg Gallagher's pistol during a scuffle and shooting the officer in the thigh and the back before fleeing.

Gallagher survived and remained on the police force.

A spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney said prosecutors reviewed the case after the defense questioned DNA evidence last fall.

New York

Report drops trade center death toll by three

Three names have been removed from the list of those killed in the World Trade Center attack, bringing the death toll to 2,749, which could stand as the final count, the medical examiner's office said Friday.

The list of those missing for the first time now matches the number of death certificates the city has issued for attack victims, said Ellen Borakove, medical examiner spokeswoman.

Borakove said the three names were removed this week after officials could not confirm that they were killed in the trade center attack.


2003 West Nile outbreak largest ever, but less deadly

Last year's outbreak of West Nile virus was the largest yet, but fewer people died or had serious brain damage from it compared to 2002, federal officials said Friday.

The 9,006 cases of the mosquito-borne virus last year were more than double the 4,156 cases in 2002, although officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the larger number of cases may reflect more testing.

CDC officials still consider 2002 to be the worst year for the United States because of 284 deaths and 2,944 cases of severe brain damage.

Last year, 220 people died and 2,695 suffered neurological disease.

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