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Anthrax traces found in five more Senate offices



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Capitol Police announced Sunday that traces of anthrax were found in the offices of five additional senators in the Hart Senate Office Building, but said the discoveries may stem from a single letter mailed last month.

Anthrax was detected in the offices of Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland; Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin; Max Baucus, D-Montana; Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania; and Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut.

Officials think the anthrax is linked to an anthrax-laden letter received October 15 by Sen. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said Lt. Dan Nichols, a spokesman for the Capitol Police.

"These findings are not unexpected because investigators are continuing to follow the downstream flow of mail within the Senate and it is believed that letters delivered to these offices were cross-contaminated by the Daschle letter," he said.

Nichols said officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the traces of anthrax found pose no health risk. Medical testing and treatment is not warranted, based on the minimal amount of spores found, he said.

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"The environmental and criminal investigation is continuing and the possibility of another letter (having been) delivered to the Capitol complex has not yet been ruled out," he added.

22,000 labs

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said the FBI had told her that there are at least 22,000 labs in the United States where deadly biological agents such as anthrax could be produced.

"I found this just to be an incredible number," Feinstein said on CNN's "Late Edition." "And, of course, they're (labs) not really certified. All of the people haven't had background checks. You don't know the kind of research that's going on."

Feinstein also said she learned from the FBI that the person who sent anthrax to Capitol Hill did not need a lab, either.

"I learned from them that it is possible to make this highly milled anthrax in an apartment setting -- that someone who has the background, has the equipment, can carry it out," she said.

The Hart building closed October 17, two days after Daschle's office received an anthrax letter. Half of all 100 U.S. senators have office space in the structure.

More than one letter?

Feinstein's Washington office was one of three Senate offices where traces of anthrax were detected last week. Between six and eight people on her staff who "were at a place of direct contamination" have been put on a 60-day course of the antibiotic Cipro, said Feinstein, who is not taking medication.

Nichols said officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the traces of anthrax found so far pose no health risk. Medical testing and treatment is not warranted, based on the minimal amount of spores found, he said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Traces of anthrax were detected last week in Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Washington office.  

"The environmental and criminal investigation is continuing and the possibility of another letter (having been) delivered to the Capitol complex has not yet been ruled out," he added.

Feinstein said the amount of anthrax contamination makes her believe more than one letter was involved.

"I would not be at all surprised if there isn't another letter or maybe two more letters [with anthrax]," she said.

Feinstein said mail that was taken from Capitol offices to a facility in Ohio will be checked this week for additional anthrax-laden letters before it is irradiated to kill the potentially deadly bacteria.

Environmental experts continue to gauge contamination as others have begun the clean-up effort of the building.



 
 
 
 



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