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CNN BREAKING NEWS

New York City Inhalation Anthrax Patient Dies

Aired October 31, 2001 - 09:02   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news to share with you right now.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, a little bit of sad news. The woman who contracted inhalation anthrax, the hospital worker, the Manhattan Hospital, has apparently died. And we are going to check in right now, as a matter of fact, with CNN's Jason Carroll who is at the hospital -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are at Lenox Hill Hospital. We just got a phone call from hospital representatives and they did confirm that Kathy Nguyen, 61 years old, did die early this morning at about 1:16 a.m. -- died from complications due to inhalation anthrax.

This woman worked in the stock room of Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital just a few blocks from here. Worked in the stock room located down in the basement in the same area as a mail room.

Just to give you a little bit of history of what happened here, this woman became sick last Thursday. She complained of having headaches and a fever, but she went to work on Thursday, went to work again on Friday. Over the weekend, her condition became much worse. On Sunday, she checked herself into Lenox Hill Hospital. Doctors immediately put her on a respirator. Tests revealed that she did in fact have a form of inhalation anthrax.

Investigators at this point are trying to retrace her steps, trying to figure out exactly what she may have come into contact with. They have no idea how this woman, at this point, contracted this deadly disease. They've taken environmental samples from Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. They've taken about 40 samples, 10 of those samples have come back so far, those tests reveal that those samples are negative. They've also taken environmental samples from her apartment in the Bronx. They've taken samples there. We're still waiting for those test results.

But once again to recap here, Kathy Nguyen, 61 years old, has died from complications due to inhalation anthrax -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Jason, we know that she worked in the supply room in the hospital and we know that that supply room had some mail in it. Do we know much about how much contact she had with the mail? Was she in any way sorting or delivering it because presumably that mail would have gone through that Morgan facility which has some positive anthrax tests there that have come back? What do we know about what she did in her daily work that might have put her in contact with mail?

CARROLL: Well it's definitely been confirmed that mail from the Morgan facility did pass through Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. But in terms of how much mail this woman actually may have handled, at this point it's difficult to tell. This woman was so sick when she came in to Lenox Hill Hospital on Sunday, she was really too sick to help investigators with that part of their investigation. So all they can do at this point, Miles, is retrace her steps, take environmental samples from wherever she was, run those tests and draw conclusions from there -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Of course what you just said will probably complicate matters in as much as they never got an interview with her. They'll have to talk to, obviously, friends and family. Are they fairly confident they'll be able to accurately retrace her steps?

CARROLL: Tough to tell. I mean this is a case that is new to the city of New York. All they can do is run those samples, run as many tests as they can, interview as many people as they can and draw conclusions from there.

O'BRIEN: CNN's Jason Carroll, we appreciate that. Live from Manhattan -- Paula.

ZAHN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one of the most concerning things about this is the fact that she did go to work on Thursday and Friday. And there are so many people who -- doctors out there, as we head into this flu season, that think that American -- it's easily to confuse the symptoms of anthrax with flu. You know she might have felt like she just had the flu, and...

O'BRIEN: I mean...

ZAHN: ... actually she didn't check herself into the hospital until over the weekend.

O'BRIEN: ... I think the word to the wise is if you get flu symptoms, you might want to get a check.

ZAHN: Yes, absolutely.

We, of course, are going to continue to follow up on this story that has just developed out of New York, this, of course, woman dying at 1:16 this morning from inhalation anthrax.

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