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Anthrax vaccine to go to 'high risk workers'

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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.

Dr. David Fleming, the CDC's deputy director of science and public health, said the agency decided to vaccinate those involved in the anthrax investigation because they were "constant exposure" to the anthrax bacteria.

He also said a CDC task force is assessing whether some postal workers and others should also be vaccinated, and expects to announce a decision within two weeks.

Traces of anthrax found at a CIA mail sorting facility are "medically insignificant," an official said, but the building in Langley, Virginia, has joined other federal buildings, such as the U.S. Supreme Court, that have been closed for environmental testing and cleaning.

The CIA, like many U.S. agencies, gets its mail from Washington's main processing center on Brentwood Road, where two postal workers have died from inhalation anthrax and a number of others are being treated in hospitals.

How the contamination is being handled at postal facilities appears headed for court. The New York metro postal union has given officials until Monday to close the contaminated Manhattan processing center. The Miami, Florida-area union said it plans to ask a federal judge for "expedited arbitration" with the Postal Service. The union wants to address grievances stemming from the three-week series of anthrax-in-the-mail investigations and reports, according to a union representative and an attorney for the union.


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  • Case history

  • Key questions

  • Bottom line

Anthrax attacks
  •  Investigators baffled by 94-year-old woman's death
  •  Gephardt: Anthrax cleanup 'tougher than expected'
  •  Official: CIA uses anthrax, but no link to letters
  •  Anthrax symptoms
  •  Tracking the bacteria
  •  Advice on suspicious packages
  •  Message board

Infections -- 13

Florida -- Robert Stevens, dead of inhalation anthrax

Washington -- Two postal workers from the Brentwood facility, dead from inhalation anthrax.

Washington -- Two Capitol Hill postal workers, both inhalation anthrax

Washington area -- U.S. State Department mailroom employee, inhalation anthrax

New York -- New York Post employee, cutaneous anthrax infection

New York -- NBC News employee, cutaneous anthrax infection

New York -- ABC News, baby of producer, cutaneous anthrax infection

Florida -- Ernesto Blanco, diagnosed with inhaled anthrax infection, was released from the hospital on October 24

New York -- CBS employee in Dan Rather's office, cutaneous anthrax infection

New Jersey -- A Hamilton Township postal worker, cutaneous anthrax infection; a second postal worker in Trenton, New Jersey, also tested positive for the same infection

Exposures -- 32

Washington -- 28 people in the Hart Senate Office Building

Florida -- Stephanie Dailey, an American Media Inc. employee

New York -- One police officer, two lab technicians who were investigating NBC News facility


What do investigators do when anthrax is found? Click here for more

What happens when a building becomes a crime scene? Click here for more

How can something be decontaminated? Click here for more

What should be done with suspicious mail? Click here for more

Are antibiotics available to combat anthrax? Click here for more

How quickly do anthrax symptoms manifest? Click here for more


As the anthrax contamination spreads, health officials are changing the way they are handling the investigation and treatment of the bacterial threat. Weeks after the probe of anthrax threats began, those on the front lines of the investigation will get the anthrax vaccine. With anthrax spreading through the mail, some postal workers are angry that more has not been done to protect them from the potentially deadly bacteria.


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