Florida anthrax patient dies
ATLANTIS, Fla. (CNN) -- A 63-year-old man hospitalized after contracting anthrax has died, hospital officials said Friday.
Robert Stevens had been hospitalized since Tuesday when he checked himself into JFK Medical Center.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is heading the investigation into how Stevens contracted anthrax. The FBI is available to assist as needed. Palm Beach County health officials noted the case is not a criminal investigation, and they believe he contracted the disease naturally.
Stevens fell ill after a recent trip to North Carolina and checked into a hospital Tuesday. A Florida state epidemiologist said he did not believe Stevens contracted the disease during his trip because the incubation period for anthrax is between six and 45 days, a period which would not have included his trip.
The nation's top health official stressed there is no need for alarm.
"People need to understand that our public health system is on heightened alert, so we may have more public reports of what appears to be isolated cases," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said. "We will be responding very aggressively. But I want to point out, once again, that this is an isolated case and it's not contagious."
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