Authorities report no progress as 4th anthrax victim dies
(CNN) -- The nation's top law enforcement officer said Wednesday authorities are not close to a breakthrough in the anthrax situation even as the bacteria claimed its fourth victim -- a 61-year-old New York City woman who died of inhalation anthrax.
"We don't have progress to report at this time," Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters at a briefing.
He said investigators are still trying to determine the source of the anthrax found in three letters and numerous government buildings. More than a dozen people have fallen ill and four have died.
The latest victim, Kathy T. Nguyen, who worked in the stockroom at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, had been fighting for life since she entered Lenox Hill Hospital Sunday, officials said. She died at 1:16 a.m. Wednesday.
Investigators have been troubled by Nguyen's case -- New York's first case of inhalation anthrax -- because they have been unable to learn where she may have been exposed to the bacteria.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Wednesday that Nguyen might have had spores on her clothing when she checked into the hospital on Sunday night. He said that has not been confirmed, but her clothing is being tested.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday traces of what appeared to be anthrax were detected in two mail bags in the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania. More testing is under way and the embassy mailroom has been sealed, he said.
Responding to reports of a second case of anthrax at the Manhattan hospital, Giuliani said one of the employees tested "complained of having a lesion." A biopsy from the lesion was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing for possible skin anthrax.
A postal worker in Delaware is being treated for a possible case of skin anthrax, the White House revealed Wednesday. Press secretary Ari Fleischer said the man has a skin lesion. "He is already on [the antibiotic] Cipro," Fleischer said.
Authorities on Wednesday reported a new case of suspected skin anthrax involving a postal employee at a mail distribution center in Camden County, New Jersey. (Full story)
Postal workers in New Jersey have filed a grievance to force the U.S. Postal Service to close a regional mail-processing facility until it is declared free of anthrax, attorneys for the workers said Wednesday.
Authorities are "intensively investigating" the possibility that private homes are being targeted with anthrax-tainted mail. "Up to [Monday], there was no evidence at all that there could be -- or is -- an individual in which there might be the reasonable question, 'Did they get infected from a piece of mail that went to their home?'" said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. (Full story)
The Pentagon suspended holiday mail programs designed to boost the morale of military personnel. Military postal officials on Tuesday reluctantly ended the "Operation Dear Abby" and "Any Service Member" programs, citing the "vulnerability of the postal system." (Full story)
Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon said Wednesday postal equipment sent to a company in his state to be repaired has tested positive for a small amount of anthrax spores. He said he was concerned the U.S. Postal Service did not quickly notify Indiana officials about the equipment's exposure to anthrax in Washington. (Full story)
A 51-year-old New Jersey woman, who lives near the Hamilton Township mail-processing center where traces of anthrax were found, tested positive for skin anthrax, health officials said. New Jersey officials also confirmed that a postal worker has inhalation anthrax. (Full story)
Israeli officials evacuated offices at the residence of Israeli President Moshe Katsav on Wednesday after an envelope containing a suspect white powder arrived at the building, a presidential spokesman said. Israeli police are checking the envelope, authorities said.
District of Columbia officials are urging postal workers at any area U.S. Postal Service facilities where environmental tests were positive for anthrax or where tests are pending to get a 60-day supply of antibiotics before their 10-day supply runs out.
U.S. Supreme Court justices met for a third consecutive day Wednesday in a ceremonial courtroom of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The Supreme Court building remains closed at least through Wednesday after positive tests for anthrax in the court's mailroom. Officials are awaiting the results of further environmental tests. (Full story)
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