Two Anthrax Cases in Florida Office
The FBI on Monday took over the investigation into the anthrax death of a Florida man after the germ was found in the nose of a co-worker and on a computer keyboard in their tabloid newspaper office, reports the Associated Press. Attorney General John Ashcroft said at a press conference in Washington, "We don't have enough information to know whether this could be related to terrorism or not." Meanwhile, federal agents, wearing protective gear, sealed off Boca Raton's American Media building that houses several supermarket tabloids, including the Sun, where both men worked. How the bacterial spores got into the newspaper's office remained under investigation. Federal investigators handling the cases have eliminated the obvious environmental sources of anthrax, said Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Anthrax cannot be spread from person to person, but all 300 people who work in the building -- and anyone who spent more than an hour inside since Aug. 1 – have been advised to visit health officials. Antibiotics can treat anthrax, though, notes AP, the form that killed Sun photography editor Bob Stevens is particularly lethal. Stevens, 63, died Friday of inhalation anthrax, the first such fatality in the U.S. since 1976. The anthrax exposure case reported Monday involved a mailroom employee, Ernesto Blanco, 73. Health officials said he had anthrax bacteria in his nasal passages, but he has not been diagnosed with the disease. They also insisted there was no public health threat, but there was unease among some of the 500 people waiting for antibiotics and anthrax tests at the Palm Beach County health agency Monday.
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