13 People Infected with Anthrax; More Contamination Found
The CDC yesterday confirmed that a female New Jersey postal employee has inhaled anthrax infection, bringing the number of confirmed anthrax infections to 13, the New York Times reports. Eight people have been diagnosed with the inhaled version of the infection, and five people with the cutaneous form. Three of the eight people diagnosed with inhalation anthrax -- one in Florida and two in Washington, D.C. -- have died (Seelye, New York Times, 10/29). The latest person to be infected with inhalation anthrax worked in a central distribution center near Trenton, N.J., where tainted letters sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw were processed. The woman was hospitalized and is in "clinically improving condition" (Morello/Blum, Washington Post, 10/29). A second New Jersey postal worker thought to have inhalation anthrax has not been confirmed as having the disease and is no longer hospitalized (New York Times, 10/29). In Washington, D.C., three residents remain hospitalized in serious condition with confirmed inhalation anthrax. The most recent D.C. area resident to be infected, a male State Department contract employee who worked at a mail distribution center in Virginia, is "holding his own," Winchester Medical Center officials said (Morello/Blum, Washington Post, 10/29). A second State Department mail handler thought to have inhalation anthrax has tested negative and has been released from the hospital (Garvey/Sanders, Los Angeles Times, 10/27).
In the Washington, D.C., area, more evidence of anthrax contamination has been found. Last night, officials said that a Landover, Md.-based mail facility that processes correspondence for the Justice Department has tested positive for anthrax contamination. The Landover facility receives mail from the District-based Brentwood Road mail facility where the presence of anthrax has been confirmed. The Brentwood facility processed the letter sent to Daschle. As a precaution, the Justice Department is recommending that employees and contractors who work in mailrooms that receive mail from the Landover facility begin taking antibiotics (Washington Post, 10/29). Mail rooms at the Justice Department are being tested (Hook, Los Angeles Times, 10/29). On Friday, investigators found anthrax in an offsite warehouse that handles mail for the Supreme Court (AP/Investor's Business Daily, 10/29). The spores were found in a sample taken from an air filter (Lane, Washington Post, 10/27). Anthrax has not been found in the court building itself, but the ventilation system has been switched off and the structure will be tested for contamination (Merzer et al., Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/28). While the building is being examined, the Supreme Court today will hear cases in a different location, the first time since 1935 that such a move has been made (Biskupic, USA Today, 10/29). About 400 court employees and others have been tested for possible anthrax exposure; they were given six-day supplies of doxycycline (Baltimore Sun, 10/29). All nine justices also are taking doxycycline (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/28).