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Investigators report 'no clues' in latest anthrax death

A postal worker walks by the Bronx, New York, apartment building of anthrax victim Kathy Nguyen on Thursday.  

(CNN) -- Federal health authorities Thursday reported "no clues" that might link the anthrax death of a Bronx, New York, woman to tainted mail.

They did say the strain of the bacteria that killed her was indistinguishable from that found in letters sent to a Senate office and two New York media outlets.

"We haven't identified anything about this strain that's different from strains in the other areas," said Dr. Julie Gerberding with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

She said that further analysis is needed before any firm conclusion can be drawn.

Most of the 16 confirmed anthrax victims have been postal employees who are believed to have handled three contaminated letters postmarked in Trenton, New Jersey.

The latest death -- classified as a homicide -- was that of Kathy Nguyen, 61, a Manhattan hospital worker.

"Every aspect of her life is being tracked right now to try to track her whereabouts," said Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan. "We just don't know. Right now there is no connection to mail."

U.S. investigators are trying to keep up with the growing number of people testing postitive for anthrax. CNN's Eileen O'Connor reports (October 31)

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Anthrax by the numbers
16 total anthrax infections

  • 10 cases inhalation anthrax (4 dead)

  • 6 cases cutaneous anthrax

Source: CDC/CNN

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Attack on America
 The latest news

Latest developments

• Results of environmental testing throughout the Supreme Court building showed the presence of anthrax is limited to the mailroom, court officials said Thursday night. They said the justices would return to their regular courtroom to hear oral arguments Monday. The court building will be closed except to those attending the arguments. (Full story)

• Health experts told doctors there is a clue to distinguish between colds, flu and anthrax. They said anthrax victims do not have runny noses.

• The CDC warned pregnant women Thursday that one standard antibiotic used to treat or prevent anthrax is safer for developing fetuses.

• An advisory panel looking at the nation's ability to respond to terrorist acts called Thursday for the creation of a national laboratory to research, develop and produce vaccines to combat biological terrorism. (Full story)

• Preliminary tests on four mailrooms used by the Food and Drug Administration have come back positive for anthrax, an agency spokeswoman said Thursday, adding that more tests are under way to confirm the contamination. Those sites in Rockville, Maryland, did not get mail directly from the tainted Brentwood processing center in Washington, the spokeswoman said, but received mail primarily from a Postal Service "hub" in Shady Grove, Maryland.

• The Federal Trade Commission warned the public Thursday about possibly fraudulent Web sites touting anthrax cures. Many new sites prey on people's fears and vulnerabilities, the agency advised. (Full story)

• Six bar code sorting machines and a freestanding dust extractor have tested positive for anthrax at Manhattan's largest postal facility, the Postal Service said Thursday. The facility will remain open while machines are being decontaminated, officials said.

• A federal judge Thursday denied a request by New Jersey postal workers to immediately close a regional mail processing facility but scheduled a hearing on the matter for Wednesday. New Jersey postal workers filed suit Wednesday, seeking closure of the Monmouth Processing and Distribution Center in Eatontown, citing possible anthrax contamination.

• The staff of the British Embassy in Beijing has begun anti-anthrax treatment after a powder arrived at the embassy, a British Embassy spokesman told CNN Thursday. (Full story)

• The Supreme Court remained closed Thursday and a conference scheduled Friday was postponed despite the fact the justices and 400 court employees have tested negative for anthrax. (Full story)

• Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon said Wednesday postal equipment sent to a company in his state to be repaired 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. It was not immediately clear where the contaminated machinery originated.

• In Kansas City, Missouri, officials hoped to have conclusive results Thursday from preliminary tests that showed the presence of anthrax at a U.S. Postal Service's Stamp Fulfillment Services Facility. The traces of the bacteria were found on garbage bags that had been put around trays of mail received from Washington's Brentwood postal facility -- where two postal employees contracted inhalation anthrax and later died.


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