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Anthrax caused 2 D.C. postal deaths

Ivan Walks, District of Columbia health director  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two postal workers who died this week had inhalation anthrax, Mayor Anthony Williams confirmed Tuesday.

The Brentwood facility where they worked -- and which processed an anthrax-tainted letter sent to a Senate office -- has tested positive for the potentially deadly bacteria, he said.

Two other postal workers from that facility are hospitalized with inhalation anthrax.

Dr. Ivan Walks, the health director for the District of Columbia, described another four cases as "suspicious." He said there are another 12 individuals that authorities are tracking, but said those have "very low suspicion."

Walks urged all postal workers who came in contact with the back room of the Brentwood facility or any mail from that office, as well as any media employees and politicians who visited the site, to come for treatment. Fourteen of 29 swab tests taken at the facility came back positive.

Because of the number of cases, no further testing is needed, Walks said. Everyone who was in the area will be treated.

"We want those folks to come in immediately and receive their treatment," Walks said, stressing that timing is critical for effective treatment of inhalation anthrax.

He said individuals should go to D.C. General Hospital to receive the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin.

The processing plant, which handled anthrax-laced mail delivered to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office, has been declared a crime scene, U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Wilhites said.


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