American Scene

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ATLANTA — Last year’s West Nile virus season was the mildest in eight years, and just one case of serious illness has been reported so far this year.

U.S. health officials on Thursday said there were 386 cases of severe West Nile illness and 33 deaths last year. That’s a far cry from the peak years of 2002 and 2003, when illnesses numbered nearly 3,000 and deaths surpassed 260.

West Nile was first reported in the United States in 1999. It’s spread by mosquitoes that often pick up the virus from birds they bite. Most cases occur in July through September.

Severe symptoms include neck stiffness, disorientation, coma and paralysis.

One possible reason for fewer cases is that birds may be developing immunity to the virus.

KENTUCKY

Mayor apologizes for brawl with editor

PIKEVILLE — A Kentucky newspaper editor who says he was punched in the face by a small-town mayor has agreed to drop an assault complaint after the mayor issued a public apology.

Jerry Boggs is editor of the Appalachian News-Express in Pikeville. He said in a complaint that Pikeville Mayor Frank Justice II was angry about an article in the newspaper and confronted him at a sports bar Tuesday night. The article reported on a political donation by Mr. Justice’s business that helped fund an attack ad in a local campaign.

The criminal complaint reported that others at Champs Bar and Grill pulled Mr. Justice away from Mr. Boggs. Mr. Justice released a statement apologizing for “the aggravation and duress” that he caused Mr. Boggs. Mr. Boggs said Thursday he wants to put the matter behind him.

MASSACHUSETTS

Olympic swimmer Thompson attacked

BROOKLINE — Eight-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Jenny Thompson says would-be robbers punched her in the face in a failed bid to steal her scooter outside Boston.

Miss Thompson told WBZ-TV on Wednesday that she was riding in Brookline on Monday night when a vehicle stopped behind her with its headlights out. She says two people got out, punched her, pushed her down and tried to grab her ride.

Miss Thompson held onto the scooter and screamed for help, forcing the assailants to flee. The 37-year-old suffered a cut on her nose and several scrapes.

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