2nd Florida man positive for anthrax

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2nd Florida man positive for anthrax By Amanda Riddle Associated Press

October 8, 2001, 7:28 AM EDT

BOCA RATON -- A co-worker of the man who died last week from anthrax also has tested positive for the disease and the building where both worked was closed after the bacterium was detected there.

The latest case, a man whose name was not immediately made public, was in stable condition Monday at an unidentified hospital, according to both the Florida and North Carolina health departments.

A nasal swab from the patient tested positive for the anthrax bacterium, said Tim O'Conner, regional spokesman for Florida's health department. It was not yet clear if anthrax had only infiltrated his nose, spread to his lungs or if he had a full-blown case of the disease.

The man's co-worker, Bob Stevens, died on Friday, the first person in 25 years in the United States to have died from a rare inhaled form of anthrax.

News that Stevens had contracted the disease set off fears of bio-terrorism, especially when it was revealed that Middle Eastern men were believed to have recently visited an airfield about 40 miles from Stevens' home in Lantana and asked questions about crop-dusters.

O'Conner said there is no evidence that either man was a victim of terrorism. "That would take a turn in the investigation," he said. "It's a different aspect, we were thinking more of environmental sources."

Stevens, 63, was a photo editor at the supermarket tabloid The Sun. Environmental tests performed at the Sun's offices in Boca Raton detected the anthrax bacteria, said O'Conner.

The Sun's offices have been shuttered and law enforcement, local and state health and CDC officials were to take additional samples from the building on Monday, O'Conner said.

About 300 people who work in the building are being contacted by the Sun and instructed not come to work Monday and undergo antibiotic treatment to prevent the disease.

The FBI was helping in the search for the source of the bacterium, said Miami FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela. But "the current risk of anthrax is extremely low," O'Conner said.

It was unclear when the final tests would tell whether or not the second man has full-blown anthrax. The bacterium normally has an incubation period of up to seven days, but could take up to 60 days to develop, O'Conner said.

"We're waiting for additional testing to see if it will become a confirmed case of anthrax or not," said Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "I realize for the public this is going to be a very slight distinction."

Michael Kahane, vice president and general counsel of American Media Inc., which publishes the Sun and two other tabloids, the Globe and the National Enquirer, confirmed the company closed its Boca Raton building at the request of state health officials.

"We are cooperating with the department of health and all other governmental agencies investigating this matter," he said Monday.

"Obviously our first concern is the health and well-being of our employees and their families."

Only 18 inhalation cases in the United States were documented in the 20th century, the most recent in 1976 in California. State records show the last anthrax case in Florida was in 1974.

Officials believe Stevens contracted anthrax naturally in Florida. The disease can be contracted from farm animals or soil, though the bacterium is not normally found among wildlife or livestock in the state. Stevens was described as an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing and gardening.

County medical examiners are looking over any unexplained deaths, but have not found any cases connected to anthrax. Veterinarians have been told to be on alert for animals who might have the disease, but none have turned up.

Health officials are checking intensive care units of area hospitals to check records going back 30 days for suspicious cases. They should be finished Monday, said O'Conner. Copyright 2001, The Associated Press

-- Nancy (teefleur@yahoo.com), October 08, 2001


FBI Takes Charge Of Anthrax Investigation

Preliminary Tests Show Second Possible Infection

Posted: 9:20 a.m. EDT October 8, 2001 Updated: 1:07 p.m. EDT October 8, 2001

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The FBI has taken charge of an investigation into anthrax cases in Florida.

"(The anthrax case) is a source of concern and that is why the FBI is investigating as well as the CDC," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

The bacteria was detected in the nasal passage of a south Florida man. He was the co-worker of a man who died last week from anthrax. The two worked at The Sun tabloid in Boca Raton together, where the first anthrax victim was the photo editor.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer wouldn't rule out terrorism as a possible explanation. But he said there's no evidence to suggest anything yet, and that's why the FBI is investigating.

The agency has made no comment.

The patient's name hasn't been made public. Health officials said he's listed in stable condition at an unidentified Miami-Dade County hospital and is undergoing more tests.

It's not yet clear if anthrax had only infiltrated his nose, or if it spread to his lungs -- or if he had a full-blown case of the disease. He was already in the hospital with an illness when the tests were run.

The FBI, local officials and the Centers for Disease Control sealed off The Sun's offices have been closed and some 200 workers are undergoing testing.

A state health official said some tests already detected the anthrax bacteria at the offices.

All employees who work in the American Media Incorporated building, where The Sun's offices are located, will be checked out with nasal passage swab tests, followed by blood screening tests, according to Dr. Jean Malecki of the Palm Beach County Health Department.

State health officials said that anyone who was in The Sun's offices for about an hour or longer since Aug. 1 should be checked at the Delray Beach office of the Palm Beach County Health Department. They have no idea how many visitors were actually there for that long, but they said others who simply stopped by briefly are not believed to be in danger.

Orange County, Florida, Health Department Epidemiologist Bill Toth said that it is "highly unlikely" that the spores could live within the ink of the newspaper because the ink is so acidic.

Officials will be checking the paper rolls Monday, Toth said.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), October 08, 2001.

It would be naive to think that there aren't other loonies lurking under the rocks out there knowing that anything that does happen can probably be blamed on bin Laden. I cite all the bomb threats that occured shortly after the terrorist WTC attacks.

Its just too coincidental that the first anthrax death in the U.S. in 25 years was spontaneous and wasn't caused by another loon (not necessarily a bin Laden accomplice). The copycats or "shadow artists" are coming out of the woodwork.

-- Guy Daley (guydaley1@netzero.net), October 08, 2001.

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_424703.html? menu=news.waronterrorism.lateststories

Helicopter task force used near Kandahar

Helicopter gunships which are used to carry ground-troops are involved in special operations in Afghanistan.

A senior defence official confirmed a mission was under way early this morning near Kandahar.

The source says an AC-130 attack aircraft is being used for the mission in combination with "task force 160," the elite special forces helicopter unit.

Sources claim the mission is targeting Brigade 55, the Taliban's elite forces. The reports have not yet been confirmed.

The AC-130 turboprop plane is used by American ground forces trained for small-unit operations in hostile country. It was the first acknowledged use of special-forces aircraft in the conflict.

"We felt it was the appropriate weapon to be used," said the defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Story filed: 07:11 Tuesday 16th October 2001

-- Jackson Brown (Jackson_Brown@deja.com), October 16, 2001.

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