|Subj:||IUFO NEWS: Officials: Anthrax Shown in Co-Worker|
|Date:||10/8/01 1:03:07 AM Pacific Daylight Time|
Monday October 8 3:26 AM ET
Officials: Anthrax Shown in Co-Worker
By AMANDA RIDDLE, Associated Press Writer
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) - Anthrax has been detected in a co-worker of a
man who died after contracting a rare inhaled form of the disease and tests
at the building where both worked have found evidence of the bacterium,
A nasal swab from the man, whose name was not immediately made public,
tested positive for the anthrax bacterium, Tim O'Conner, regional spokesman
for the Florida Department of Health, said Monday.
It was not yet clear if anthrax had spread to his lungs or if he had a full-blown
case of the disease. The man was in stable condition at an unidentified
hospital, according to both the Florida and North Carolina health
His co-worker, Bob Stevens, had recently visited North Carolina. Stevens
died Friday, the first person in 25 years in the United States to have died
from an 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 he couldn't say that the second case was related to terrorism.
``That would take a turn in the investigation,'' said O'Conner. ``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 have
detected the anthrax bacteria, said O'Conner.
The Sun's offices have been closed off 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 (news - web sites) 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 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 (news - web sites) 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
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.
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