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Doctor Discusses Death of Man Infected With Anthrax

Aired October 5, 2001 - 17:17   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A few moments ago we talked about the sad ending to that 63-year-old man's fight with anthrax in Florida. The doctor in Florida now, Dr. Larry Bush a short time ago, making a statement about his condition. Let's listen to that now.

DR. LARRY BUSH, JFK MEDICAL CENTER: He regained consciousness from time he entered the emergency room, approximately four hours after entering the emergency room.

QUESTION: When he entered the emergency room, how much hope did you have for this man?

BUSH: There was hope because at that time the diagnosis was not clear, and in most cases of bacterial meningitis, if you catch it early, people can be treated appropriately. Unfortunately, with anthrax, pneumonia and/or meningitis, it's an almost 100 percent fatal disease, even once you start the appropriate antibiotics.

QUESTION: Did investigators give you any clues as to how he may have got this? Have you been given any more information?

BUSH: Well, our clinical suspicion is that this was a respiratory route of acquisition, although exactly where and how this may have occurred, we don't know.

QUESTION: OK. Thank you for your time. We appreciate that.

QUESTION: Dr. Bush, can you tell us one more time, exactly what time did Mr. Stevens die, and what were his...

BUSH: Sure. He suffered a cardiac arrest at 4:00 and was not able to be resuscitated, and passed away at that time. Basically, as a cause was his multisystem organ failure, which was produced by his pulmonary meningio, or meningitis anthrax.

QUESTION: And this, basically is, once you contract this, then you begin exhibiting symptoms, there is virtually no way to save a patient?

BUSH: Well, at least in the literature, in previous cases that are published, people who present in his state were obvious pulmonary disease and meningio disease, the mortality rate is close to 100 percent, if not 100 percent.

QUESTION: Basically, he had no chance.

BUSH: In essence, it was not unexpected. Correct.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything else about how he contracted the anthrax at this point?

BUSH: Sure, I don't know where or how he contracted it, but my clinical suspicion is that it was via his lungs, and that he probably inhaled it. I cannot confirm that. That's our clinical suspicion.

QUESTION: Have you ever seen this before in your career as an infectious disease specialist?

BUSH: No. Fortunately not. But again, there has not been a reported case of pulmonary anthrax, or respiratory anthrax, in the United States, at least since the late 1970s.

QUESTION: And I think, once again, people are concerned. They want to know if it's contagious, they want to know if it can be transmitted person to person. Can you talk a little bit about that?

BUSH: Sure. Anthrax is not a person-to-person spread. It's carried via animals, it's in the soil. So it's not contagious in that sense.

As far as whether other people are at risk, I think it's a random event, and one couldn't predict whether anybody else is at risk for anthrax at this time.

QUESTION: And as far as any other cases, we understand this is an isolated case?

BUSH: As far as we know, this is an isolated case. For sure, here at JFK Medical Center, there are no other cases under suspicion that are being investigated at this time.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your time, Dr. Bush.

HEMMER: That is Dr. Larry Bush, talking about Bob Stevens, 63 years old. Apparently, earlier this afternoon, cardiac arrest caused by complete organ failure as a result of contracting anthrax in recent days or weeks. When, we don't specifically know, but again, the devastating impact of anthrax on the human body played out today in the state of Florida.

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