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Anthrax found in State Dept. mail pouch in Austria

From Elise Labott
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Tests revealed traces of anthrax on a U.S. State Department mail pouch in Vienna, Austria, department spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday.

No letter laced with anthrax had been found in the bag so far, Boucher noted. The mail pouch was not at the U.S. Embassy in Austria when it was held for tests, sources said.

The pouch had been held in late October, when the State Department ordered that all such pouches must be quarantined and tested, Boucher said.

That order followed positive tests for anthrax at the State Department mail facility and the diagnosis of a State Department mail handler with inhalation anthrax. Authorities also found trace amounts of anthrax in two mailrooms at the State Department headquarters and on letters sent to the agency's Rewards for Justice Program.

Mail pouches bound for the U.S. embassy in Lima, Peru, and Vilnius, Lithuania -- held along with the Vienna pouch in October -- also tested positive for traces of anthrax last month.

Following release of the positive test results in Lithuania, the embassy staff there was offered antibiotics to treat possible anthrax contamination.


• U.S. Department of State

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