Campaign against Terrorism: Bioterrorism - Spores in CIA Post Room Heighten Anthrax Fears
Gumbel, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)
ANY HOPES of a rapid end to the anthrax scare in America were dashed yesterday as further traces of the bacteria were discovered in a New York post office, an army institute in Maryland, the US Supreme Court's off-site mail inspection warehouse, and a mail room handling deliveries to the Central Intelligence Agency.
The traces picked up at the CIA mail room were described as "medically insignificant" and no new cases were reported of people coming down with anthrax, either the cutaneous or the inhaled form. But the fact that spores were being picked up, and that nobody was sure where they were coming from, suggested that many previous assumptions about the bacteria's ability to spread were over- optimistic or plain wrong.
Post Office and health officials have acknowledged that even an anthrax spore sample sealed inside a taped envelope, like the letter sent to the Senate Majority leader, Tom Daschle, might have the capacity to infect postal sorting machinery it passes through and to kill people who handle it.
There is now talk of installing machines throughout the country to "zap" the mail with bacteria-killing electrons and, in the meantime, all 500,000 US postal workers are being kitted out with protective masks and plastic gloves. In a lengthy analysis published in yesterday's Washington Post, Rick Weiss raised the question "whether the US mail stream as a whole at some point might need to be deemed potentially deadly".
Anthrax vaccines will be issued to investigators and others at risk of exposure and could be extended to some postal workers, it was reported last night.
The anthrax found at the CIA mail building in Langley, Virginia, was picked up as part of a sweep of government buildings around Washington. The building was closed yesterday pending further tests - employees who handle mail there were put on antibiotics as a precaution. A CIA spokesman, Bill Harlow, described the amount of anthrax found as "a trace", and said other CIA …
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Publication information: Article title: Campaign against Terrorism: Bioterrorism - Spores in CIA Post Room Heighten Anthrax Fears. Contributors: Gumbel, Andrew - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 27, 2001. Page number: 6. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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