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Anthrax detected in preliminary mailbox test

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Investigators believe they may have found out where some of the anthrax-laced letters were mailed last fall, the Postal Inspection Service said Monday.

The service made the statement after preliminary tests detected anthrax on a mail collection box in Princeton, New Jersey.

It was the first box in the New Jersey area to test positive, said spokesman Dan Milhalko. About 300 mail collection boxes whose contents flow into the Trenton area have been tested so far.

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Postal officials emphasized that field tests have been wrong in the past. The mailbox, on a street adjoining the Princeton University campus, has been removed for further testing.

Five people died last fall after anthrax-laced letters were sent through the mail to members of Congress in Washington and to television network offices in New York. Several other people were infected, but recovered.

Along the way, anthrax spores leaking from the letters contaminated post office buildings in Washington and New Jersey.

Four letters carrying the potentially deadly bacteria -- all with Trenton, New Jersey, postmarks -- have been recovered.

Two Washington postal workers died of inhaled anthrax, as did two women thought to have been infected from the mail.

A Florida employee of a national tabloid newspaper also died of inhaled anthrax, and though no contaminated letter was found in connection with his death, investigators found traces of anthrax in the company's mailroom.




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