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Investigators perplexed over source of Connecticut anthrax


Authorities remain confounded by the death Wednesday of a 94-year-old Connecticut woman from inhalation anthrax after tests of her mail, mailbox and local postal facilities showed no indication of the bacteria.

Ottilie Lundgren, who lives alone in the small town of Oxford, is the fifth American -- and only the second not associated with the media or postal service -- to die from anthrax in the last two months. Sources told CNN that two weeks of mail found in Lundgren's home contained no anthrax spores, although it is possible the bacteria might have been on mail she had already thrown out. (Full story)

The CDC says the anthrax strain that infected Lundgren is indistinguishable from the strain detected in all the other cases of infection in the United States. A CDC spokeswoman also said this strain responds to all antibiotics used against it.

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• 18 confirmed anthrax infections

• 11 inhalation cases, including five deaths

• Seven skin cases

Inhalation anthrax deaths:

Connecticut -- Ottilie Lundgren, a 94-year-old woman in Oxford.

Florida -- Robert Stevens, photo editor at American Media Inc. in Boca Raton.

Washington -- Joseph Curseen Jr. and Thomas Morris Jr. Both were postal workers at the Brentwood processing center.

New York -- Kathy Nguyen, hospital supply room worker.

Other inhalation anthrax victims:

Washington -- Two Brentwood postal workers.

Washington area -- State Department mailroom employee.

Florida -- Ernesto Blanco, who worked in the same building as Stevens. He was released from the hospital October 24.

New Jersey -- Two Hamilton Township postal workers.

Cutaneous (skin) cases:

New York -- Female assistant to NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, infant son of ABC News producer, female assistant to CBS News anchor Dan Rather and an unidentified person.

New Jersey -- West Trenton postal worker, Hamilton Township mail processing employee and Hamilton Township bookkeeper.


What happens when officials believe there is an anthrax contamination threat? Click here for more

Why do some experts fear the new anthrax test could return a false negative? Click here for more


Although health officials feared that inhalation anthrax would nearly always be fatal, doctors have saved several anthrax victims.


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