N.J. Postal Worker Tests Positive for Anthrax Disease, Brings Infected Toll to Six
A New Jersey postal worker has tested positive for cutaneous anthrax, and a second New Jersey postal worker is showing symptoms of the disease, the Washington Post reports. Yesterday, officials also announced that an assistant to CBS News anchor Dan Rather also has cutaneous anthrax. Six people are now known to have anthrax infection; a confirmed diagnosis in the second postal worker would bring the number to seven (Washington Post, 10/19). Two of those cases -- both in Florida -- involved infection with the disease's inhaled version, while the remaining cases, all in New York or New Jersey, are cutaneous. One of the Florida men died in early October (American Health Line, 10/18). The postal worker with confirmed cutaneous anthrax apparently became ill Sept. 27 and is being treated with antibiotics. The postal worker with symptoms of cutaneous anthrax also is receiving antibiotics (Schmidt/Russakoff, Washington Post, 10/19). The CBS employee had developed what was thought to be an infected bug bite on her check around Oct. 1, but after a series of doctor visits and a biopsy, health officials determined she has cutaneous anthrax (Meyer et al., Los Angeles Times, 10/19). The employee, whose prognosis is "excellent," does not "recall opening any suspicious" letters or packages, but investigators are "assuming that the spores came through the mail." In Washington, D.C., the number of Capitol Hill workers exposed to anthrax after the opening of a tainted letter to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) remains at 31. About 3,000 people in Washington have been tested since Monday; results were available for 878 tests, which were negative (Lancaster/Dewar, Washington Post, 10/19). However, a worker at a facility that delivers mail to Congress has tested positive for anthrax exposure -- "the first case outside the grounds of the Capitol that appears connected with the letter to Daschle," the Post reports (Schmidt/Russakoff, Washington Post, 10/19). Federal health officials said they are investigating "other possible cases of anthrax linked to New York and Florida" (Lancaster/Dewar, Washington Post, 10/19). The CDC's Julie Gerberding said, "We do have other individuals who are reporting skin lesions or exposure circumstances that are under active investigation. We are working around the clock to confirm or rule out" infections (Merzer et al., Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/19). U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher said yesterday that all individuals either exposed to or infected with anthrax are being treated and are "expected to fully recover" (Los Angeles Times, 10/19).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.