Anthrax Case At ABC (http://www.cbsnews.com/now/story/0,1...6-412,00.shtml
Child Of ABC News Employee Diagnosed With The Disease
Second Tabloid Employee Also Has Anthrax
Letter Sent To Sen. Tom Daschle Tests Positive For Anthrax
Oct. 15, 2001
(CBS) Another case of anthrax was reported in New York Monday night when the child of an employee of the ABC network tested positive for skin anthrax, the network said.
The case comes just days after an employee of NBC became ill with anthrax, a potentially deadly bacteria that could be used as a biological warfare agent.
"The baby has responded well to treatment and we are very hopeful the baby will make a full and complete recovery," New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani told a news conference, after the announcement by ABC.
The child had recently visited the ABC newsroom in New York, probably on Sept. 28, the source said.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and police officials were at ABC News on Monday evening, officials said.
The child's condition became public shortly after Florida health officals said a second empoyee of a supermarket tabloid in the state has the inhaled form of anthrax.
Ernesto Blanco, a 73-year-old mailroom employee of tabloid company American Media Inc. who had previously tested positive for exposure to the anthrax, has become ill with the disease, officials said in a press release.
Blanco "is improving and the public health officials are encouraged by his progress," the officials said in a statement.
One of Blanco's co-workers at The Sun tabloid, Robert Stevens, 63, died of inhalation anthrax on Oct. 5.
Meanwhile, Capitol Hill felt first-hand the threat of bioterrorism. A letter opened Monday in the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle tested positive for anthrax, prompting a criminal investigation.
Capitol Police Lt. Dan Nichols said the letter, which was opened by Daschle aides, contained a powdery substance. He said two preliminary field tests on the letter were positive for anthrax. The letter was then sent to an Army medical research facility at Fort Detrick, Md., for further tests.
"There was an exposure when the letter was opened," Nichols said.
People who were exposed were being treated with Cipro, an antibiotic, said a Capitol physician. There was no immediate indication whether any of those exposed had anthrax spores in their bodies.
Daschle said his office in the Hart building a block from the Capitol had been quarantined and closed. Emergency medical vehicles were parked outside the building.
He said there were 40 people in his office at the time, but that he doesn't know how many of them may have come in contact with the letter. He said he also was gratified that the response was so quick.
"They have been given assurances that there is no immediate danger for them given that we were able to respond that quickly and as directly as we could," Daschle said.
What Should You Do?
The FBI has issued an advisory issuing guidelines on what to do if you receive a suspicious letter or package.
Among their recommendations:
Handle it with care-don't shake or bump it.
Isolate it and look for indictors (lopsided or uneven, strange odor, oily stains or discolorations, no return address or restrictive markings such as "Personal").
Don't open, smell or taste it.
Treat it as suspect-call 911.
Click here to read the entire FBI Advisory.
The letter to Daschle, like one sent to NBC News, was postmarked Trenton, N.J. It was opened at about 10:30 a.m. EDT by a female staffer.
"As soon as it became clear there was a suspicious substance in the envelope, we contacted the Capitol police and the Capitol physician," Daschle said.
The incident touched off reports of suspicious packages in at least 12 other Capitol offices, reports CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer. There were no announcements that any of them contained anthrax, but as a precaution, offices were directed to open no more mail-it is being collected and screened. And, for the first time anyone could remember, public tours of the Capitol were cancelled until further notice.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, President Bush said "there may be some possible link" between Osama bin Laden and the recent flurry of anthrax reports.
"I wouldn't put it past him but we don't have any hard evidence," he said of the man suspected as the leader behind Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington that killed thousands.
Mr. Bush revealed that a letter containing anthrax had been sent to Daschle's office in responding to a reporter's question.
Click here to learn more about biological threats.
Meanwhile, Americans returning to work faced anxious moments opening envelopes after the number of people across the nation exposed to anthrax sent through the mail jumped.
In three new cases, a police officer and two lab technicians involved in an investigation at NBC's New York headquarters tested positive for the presence to the bacteria, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Sunday.
NBC anchor Tom Brokaw' assistant Erin O'Connor, 38, developed a case of skin-contracted anthrax, a mild form of the disease, and is expected to recover. O'Connor was exposed when she opened a letter containing a brown granular substance.
A mail carrier and a maintenance employee in New Jersey have reported symptoms that may be related to anthrax and were undergoing testing, postal officials said Monday.
Postal Inspector Tony Esposito made the announcement outside of the Trenton Main Post Office as federal investigators searched for the source of the Trenton-postmarked letters.
Of the two workers that were being examined, a female letter carrier had flu-like symptoms and a male maintenance worker had symptoms resembling poison ivy, Esposito said. The female was being given Cipro, he said.
Do you think the anthrax sent via the mail is the work of Osama bin Laden and his followers or home-grown Americans?
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Officials closed down the non-public mail processing area Monday, where American Media Inc.'s mail was handled, and the Environmental Protection Agency was to begin cleaning the area after the post office closed for the evening, state health officials said in a faxed statement.
Blanco has been receiving treatment for anthrax since he was hospitalized earlier this month for what was then believed to be pneumonia.
One of Blanco's co-workers at The Sun tabloid, Robert Stevens, 63, died Oct. 5 of inhalation anthrax, the deadliest form of the disease.
Anthrax spores were later found on Stevens' computer keyboard and the mailroom of the American Media headquarters. As many as five other AMI employees have tested positive for exposure to anthrax, but none of those employees has come down with the disease.
More than 300 AMI employees were expected to undergo a second round of blood tests to detect the presence of anthrax antibodies. Palm Beach County health officials said the tests could begin as early as Wednesday.
In Nevada, there was some good news. Six people who may have come into contact with a contaminated letter at a Microsoft office tested negative.
The new New York cases brought to 12 the number of people around the nation who have tested positive for the presence of the bacteria in their system, including two who developed the disease.
With one person dead and twelve others infected by the deadly bacteria, there's a new sense of urgency involved in strengthening that response. Monday, reports CBS News Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin, the government asked Congress to spend an additional $1.5 billion in the war against bioterrorism.
Since the attacks, pharmacy supplies of the antibiotic Cipro have been wiped out. $643 million of the new funding will be spent on beefing up the country's supply of antibiotics and Bayer, which makes the drug, has agreed to increase production by 25 percent.
Extra money will also speed up vaccine research and development both for anthrax and smallpox and will help hospitals be better prepared.
News of the exposures caused jitters around the world, with a number of false or pending cases reported over the weekend. Among them:
In Hawaii, hazardous-materials teams were called to the Honolulu and Lihue airports following the discovery of white powder at both locations. Tests were being conducted on the powder.
In Uniontown, Pa., a 49-year-old woman was given Cipro, an antibiotic for anthrax, and was tested for exposure after receiving an envelope containing a powdery substance.
In Boston, preliminary tests on a Boston Globe editor were negative for anthrax exposure. The editor asked for the tests after recalling he had recently handled and thrown out a threatening letter similar to the one that provoked fears at The New York Times last week. He said it contained no powder.
An envelope with a powdery substance on the outside was found in the mail at the CBS News Washington bureau Saturday. The envelope was turned over to the FBI, and tests were negative for anthrax, CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said.
At CBS News headquarters in New York, authorities were alerted Saturday night to a letter received with a Malaysian postmark - a precautionary measure because the letter to Microsoft had a Malaysian connection. Per New York City police procedures, the building was sealed until police retrieved the letter and determined that there was no threat, CBS News said.