Letter to Sen. Leahy Likely Contaminated with Anthrax
Federal investigators searching through quarantined mail sent to Capitol Hill discovered a letter on Friday addressed to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that preliminarily tested positive for anthrax and featured the same characteristics as the tainted letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) last month, the New York Times reports (Shenon, New York Times, 11/17). The new letter was discovered in one of about 280 barrels of unopened mail that had been sent to Capitol Hill but was diverted to a facility in Northern Virginia for testing after the Daschle letter was opened on Oct. 15 (Eggen/Schmidt, Washington Post, 11/17). Like the Daschle letter, the envelope sent to Leahy was postmarked on Oct. 9 in Trenton, N.J., and contained the same handwriting and return address of a fictitious elementary school in Franklin Park, N.J. (New York Times, 11/17). The Leahy letter is the fourth one containing anthrax that has been discovered since the anthrax incidents, which have resulted in four deaths and at least 13 illnesses, beginning in early October (Garvey/Sanders, Los Angeles Times, 11/17). The FBI said in a statement Friday that it will conduct further testing to "confirm the presence of anthrax and examine its contents to compare it with that found in the other letters," which include those sent to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and the New York Post. Those letters were postmarked on Sept. 18, but also came from Trenton and contained "identical handwriting" to the Daschle and Leahy letters (Gibson, Baltimore Sun, 11/17). Dan Mihalko, a spokeperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Police, said that the unopened Leahy letter contained powder on the envelope and had "dust falling out of it." The letter was sent to the U.S. Army lab at Fort Detrick, Md., for testing (Washington Post, 11/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.