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Last inhalation anthrax patient goes home

FAIRFAX, Virginia (CNN) -- Postal worker Leroy Richmond was at home Wednesday, the last of six inhalation anthrax survivors to be released from the hospital.

Richmond left Inova Fairfax Hospital in northern Virginia Tuesday, hospital spokeswoman Courtney Prebich said.

"We had two patients," Prebich told CNN. "One came in on October 19, and that was the one that was released (Tuesday), and a second came in on October 21, and he was released Friday."

A State Department mail processing employee contracted inhalation anthrax. He was released from a Winchester, Virginia, hospital last week. A worker at American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida, and two Hamilton Township, New Jersey, postal workers have also been released from hospitals after treatment for the disease.

Investigators believe the potentially deadly bacteria spread through the mail system; most of those infected have been postal workers.

Four people who contracted inhalation anthrax died. Seven people contracted the milder cutaneous (skin) form of the disease.

Authorities have found three contaminated letters, all postmarked in Trenton, New Jersey, and addressed to a U.S. Senator and two New York media outlets. Wherever those letter traveled, anthrax contamination has been found.

On Tuesday, however, the State Department launched a search for a possible tainted letter in its mail systems after eight samples of 55 taken from its mail handling facilities tested positive.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said "the explanation that seems most probable to us" is that another letter may have gone through Washington's Brentwood mail processing facility, which handles all incoming federal government mail.

Koplan said such a letter may have found its way to the State Department mail processing facility in Sterling, Virginia, where the infected employee worked.



 
 
 
 


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