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CBS Employee Diagnosed With Cutaneous Anthrax

Aired October 18, 2001 - 12:02   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.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: The day, of course, began with news -- at least began for us with news that a CBS employee, an assistant to CBS news anchor Dan Rather has been diagnosed with the skin form of anthrax. That's where we'll begin this hour's coverage.

Michael Okwu joins us with more on that -- Michael.

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, good afternoon. Apparently, she is a young woman. And she is on antibiotics. Officials here say that she's responding well to those antibiotics and that she is resting comfortably at home.

Now, CBS officials say that one of her duties is to open mail for Mr. Rather, but it is unclear how she contracted anthrax. There's absolutely no evidence at this point, they say, that any of the mail or any of the envelopes received here in the past couple weeks was suspicious. And there's no indication at this time that anyone else at CBS was exposed to anthrax.

Now this morning, Mayor Giuliani at a press conference said that she noticed swelling on October 1. After she noticed this swelling, she went to her medical team, her doctors, who prescribed penicillin for her on the fourth. But last Friday when she heard about the news at NBC, the case of anthrax there, she became nervous and contacted health officials. She was then tested and found positive for anthrax and was given Cipro. Authorities are confident, however, that this is an isolated case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: She is recovering, if not recovered completely. She responded well to both the penicillin and the Cipro and should be all right. And that she works at CBS. She handles mail. And no one else at CBS, during this very lengthy time period, which is what it is, since October 1, from what we can tell, has any symptoms. So there's no indication that anything got spread to anyone else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OKWU: We've counted about two dozen representatives from the CDC who have entered this building. At this point, of course, CBS is still operational. It is still open. And there are just throngs of media here -- Aaron. BROWN: And just -- Michael, just to reiterate one point -- are CBS News employees being tested now, or is the assumption that if it had happened we'd already know?

OKWU: Well, they -- the authorities are very confident that if this had happened that we would already know. But there are people in the mail room which, of course, seems to be the pattern these days who are being tested. And they are conducting tests on that mail room, environmental tests for that space, as well as environmental tests for spaces beyond the mail room. And that's going to be going on for the better part of this afternoon -- Aaron.

BROWN: Michael, thank you. Michael Okwu on the CBS story.

On the subject of mail and mail rooms: The Associated Press is just now reporting that a New Jersey postal worker has now tested positive for exposure to anthrax. We don't know -- at least, I don't know where that postal worker worked. But we do know that a couple of the letters that contained anthrax were mailed out of New Jersey. And we recall that two New Jersey postal workers had complained earlier in the week of flu-like symptoms, which may have been the flu or may not have been the flu, of course. In any case, one worker, according to AP, has now tested positively for exposure to anthrax.

And again, we make the distinction, we'll make it often, there is a huge difference between being exposed to anthrax and actually contracting anthrax. It is not a little distinction. It can be a life and death distinction. And so we're very careful in how we say this. The postal worker exposed.

Judy, good afternoon.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon, Aaron.

The numbers keep climbing. By my count, we're now over 40 with this number -- with this new announcement coming out of New Jersey. And again, CNN hasn't confirmed that. But as Aaron said, this is a report from The Associated Press.

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