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Anthrax closes 2nd D.C. postal facility


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A second postal facility here was shut down Friday after traces of anthrax were found in the building.

A carrier case at the Southwest Post Office, on L Street, tested positive for the presence of anthrax spores, said U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Willhite.

"It has been closed down immediately," Willhite said. People who work at the facility should be safe from infection, officials said.

"The good news is, like all postal workers they had been put on Cipro earlier in the week," she said. "We do not expect that there will be any fallout from this."

Officials have tested 36 postal facilities in the area. Twenty-one of those tests have proved negative for the presence of anthrax.

Postal officials also have ordered environmental testing of 30 mail processing and distribution centers, and plan to extend the testing to approximately 200 other facilities in the future.

Anthrax being sent through the U.S. mail has infected at least 13 people and killed three, including two postal workers from the Brentwood facility in northeast Washington.

A funeral was held Friday for Thomas Morris Jr., 55, of Suitland, Maryland. The distribution clerk had worked for the postal service for 28 years. He died Sunday.

The funeral for Joseph Curseen Jr., 47, of Clinton, Maryland, will be Saturday. Curseen was a mail processor who had 15 years of service. He died Monday.

Is it a good idea for the U.S. to stock up on the anthrax treatment drug Cipro?

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The U.S. government is preparing for a long battle against anthrax. CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports (October 26)

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Anthrax by the numbers
13 total anthrax infections

  • 3 deaths from inhalation infections

  • 4 cases inhalation infections

  • 6 cases cutaneous anthrax

32 total anthrax exposures

Source: CDC/CNN

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 The latest news

Latest developments

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will administer anthrax vaccine to "high risk" laboratory workers and decontamination specialists and may later expand the program to some postal workers, the federal agency said Friday. (Full story)

• On Capitol Hill, investigators found three anthrax hotspots in the Longworth House Office Building, government sources told CNN Friday. One source described the findings as "small trace amounts" while another called the results "definitive." The bacteria were found along the mail delivery route in the building.

• The Titan Corp. in San Diego said Friday that the Postal Service awarded it a contract worth approximately $40 contract to provide eight electron beam systems to irradiate U.S. mail to destroy anthrax bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. Titan expects the first systems to be received by the Postal Service in the Washington area in November.

• The New York metro chapter of the American Postal Workers Union said it plans to sue the U.S. Postal Service to force the closing of Manhattan's largest mail sorting and distribution center, where anthrax cultures were discovered on four sorting machines, a union official said Friday. (Full story)

• Florida mail handlers, who also announced Friday they would file a lawsuit next week, want all anthrax-infected postal facilities closed and equipment installed to guard against the bacteria. (Full story)

• U.S. Supreme Court officials said Friday there's no evidence of anthrax contamination at the main court building after the bacteria were found on a filter removed from the court's off-site mail inspection warehouse. All employees of the nation's highest court are undergoing tests for exposure.

• A military spokesman told CNN on Friday morning that a mailroom at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, has tested positive for anthrax.

• A "medically insignificant" amount of anthrax was found in a building at the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia. Officials say 31 different sites in the mail-receiving building and the CIA's main mailroom have been checked since October 23. Only one site tested positive for anthrax.

• The Defense Department has deployed mobile biological detection units around the Pentagon in response to the threat of terrorist attack, Pentagon officials said Friday.

• A small group of workers at the vice president's residence in northwest Washington were tested for anthrax exposure Friday, sources tell CNN. Some of the mail that comes to the property is handled at a CIA processing facility where trace amounts of anthrax have been detected. "It is a small group and it was done as a precaution," said a source familiar with the group. (Full story)

• Bacteria colonies found on four sorting machines in Manhattan's largest mail distribution center are anthrax, the U.S. Postal Service has confirmed. The machines at the Morgan processing and distribution facility were shut down, but the facility remains open. (Full story)

• Terrorists live within U.S. borders "plotting, planning, waiting to kill Americans again," Attorney General John Ashcroft warned Thursday. Speaking before a gathering of the nation's mayors in Washington, Ashcroft again warned of the possibility of further attacks. (Full story)

• The U.S. Postal Service Thursday began trucking some mail addressed to federal government offices in Washington to an Ohio company to be irradiated to prevent more anthrax-laden letters from reaching government targets. (Full story)

• Crews in congressional office buildings are using a special solution to kill anthrax spores on walls, furniture and office equipment. (Full story) |

• The State Department said Thursday the diagnosis that one of its mail handlers has inhalation anthrax has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A second mailroom employee with "flu-like" symptoms is being tested for anthrax. (Full story)


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