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A minuscule enemy has put New York City on the alert this holiday weekend -- the Culex pipiens, a mosquito that transmits St. Louis encephalitis.

Three confirmed cases of the disease have been found in northern Queens, including that of an 80-year-old man who died Tuesday. As many as two dozen others may have been infected, officials said. The death of an 87-year-old woman Thursday also is believed to have been caused by SLE.

The viral infection, named for the city where the first cases were recognized in 1933, is transmitted into the blood stream when a mosquito bites a victim.

Rudolph Giuliani said the city would take steps to get rid of the mosquitoes.

On Friday night, health officials passed out insect repellent and brochures about the disease in the Whitestone, Flushing and Auburndale sections of Queens, where all of the confirmed and most of the suspected cases originated.

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