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New anthrax infections confirmed in New Jersey

Senate office building to be fumigated for anthrax

Acting New Jersey Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco, left, announces Monday that a New Jersey woman has been diagnosed with cutaneous anthrax.  

(CNN) -- Confirmation of two more anthrax infections in New Jersey raised the number of cases in the United States to 15 on Monday.

A 51-year-old woman who lives near the Hamilton Township mail processing center, where traces of anthrax have been found, tested positive for skin anthrax but is doing fine, health officials said.

The woman, who is not a postal employee or member of the media, was released from a hospital two days ago, the officials said.

Health officials said Monday a second postal worker at the Hamilton Township center has been confirmed to have inhaled anthrax, the more serious form of the disease. The worker previously was listed as a suspected case. (Full story)

Anthrax-tainted letters passed through the facility.

A female employee at the facility previously tested positive for inhalation anthrax and another tested positive for skin anthrax.

A postal employee in nearby West Trenton also tested positive for skin anthrax.

Anthrax by the numbers
15 total anthrax infections

  • 3 deaths from inhalation infections

  • 9 cases inhalation infections

  • 6 cases cutaneous anthrax

Source: CDC/CNN

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Latest developments

• The New York Post said Monday a third employee was showing signs of skin anthrax and was awaiting the results of a biopsy. The man, who is an editor on the editorial page, was placed on antibiotics and was expected to make a full recovery, the Post said. He was believed to have been exposed to an anthrax-tainted letter to the Post postmarked September 18.

• The Environmental Protection Agency recommended Monday that the Hart Senate Office Building should be treated with chlorine dioxide gas over the next two weeks to kill anthrax spores in the contaminated building. (Full story)

• A New York postal union filed a lawsuit Monday to force the closing of New York's biggest mail-sorting center. Postal officials had announced that Manhattan's Morgan Mail Processing and Distribution Center would remain open during the anthrax decontamination set to begin Monday. (Full story)

• Mail workers in Florida sued the U.S. Postal Service Monday, demanding the testing of all employees at facilities that might have been contaminated by anthrax. The Miami local of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents 3,300 workers from Boca Raton to Homestead, also called for the buildings to be closed until they can be screened for anthrax. (Full story)

• Thirty mail facilities will be tested for anthrax in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, the U.S. Postal Service said Monday. The environmental testing may be extended to approximately 200 other facilities. (Full story)

• Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said Monday there was no final government decision to vaccinate "high risk" workers against anthrax, even though top officials with the CDC said the decision to vaccinate against anthrax had already been made.

• Postmaster General John Potter said Monday the postal service has a $40 million contract to buy electron beam units from Titan Corp. to sanitize mail. Potter said Washington metro postal facilities would be the first to receive the machines in early November.

• Thompson said preliminary tests came back positive for anthrax contamination at the Cohen Building in Washington that houses several offices, including the Voice of America and the Food and Drug Administration.

• At the Supreme Court, which was closed Monday for testing, officials said the building's basement mailroom had tested positive for anthrax contamination. Justices convened away from historic courtroom for the first time since the building was erected in 1935. The justices used a ceremonial courtroom at a nearby federal courthouse.

• At the State Department, a senior official stressed that the amount of anthrax found in the department's main building was "very, very minor" and noted that no trace of the substance was found in the building's filtration system. Officials said the inside of a diplomatic pouch bound for the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, tested positive for anthrax. (Full story)

• White House press secretary Ari Fleischer disputed reports Monday that anthrax samples taken from the New York Post and the Washington office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle tested positive for bentonite. The analysis showed neither sample contained aluminum, Fleischer said, an indication that bentonite was not present. The presence of bentonite could provide a helpful clue to determine the source of the anthrax. Bentonite can be used to aerosolize anthrax so it is more easily inhaled.

• Washington health officials have switched to doxycycline as the antibiotic of choice for combating anthrax infection. Authorities initially prescribed ciprofloxacin, manufactured under the name Cipro. CDC sources said they want to achieve a better balance in the types of antibiotics used. Using a single antibiotic for extended periods can increase the likelihood of antibiotic resistance. Also, doxycycline is cheaper than Cipro and more plentiful. (Full story)


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