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Virginia Doctors Report Suspected Third Case of Anthrax Not Anthrax

Aired October 9, 2001 - 06:22   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this morning a Virginia official says a third possible case of anthrax has surfaced in the United States, and just moments ago, a news conference was held in Manassas, Virginia, at Prince William Hospital and this is what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. THOMAS RYAN, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY HOSPITAL: Symptoms that are -- initial symptoms are flu like, very hard to differentiate from the flu. As the disease progresses, patients develop a finding on the chest X-ray that shows the cardiac silhouette to be enlarged. He has none of that. His symptoms of confusion were worked up by having a lumbar puncture, which is a spinal tap. That was negative. His CAT scan was negative. All of his laboratory tests that we did here were negative. He just had a slight elevation of his white blood cell count which you could get with a viral illness or any kind of a cold kind of symptoms. So...

QUESTION: How rare is anthrax? How hard is it to transmit person to person?

RYAN: Anthrax is exceedingly rare. I believe that there has only been about 13 to 18 cases in the century in the United States. It cannot be transmitted person to person. And I want to stress that, it cannot be transmitted person to person. Right now we do not think that there's a need for people getting prophylaxis. If people develop any kind of symptoms that they're concerned about such as viral type symptoms, we are referring them to the local health department.

QUESTION: Does the hospital -- is it prepared for and are you anticipating a flood of patients who have flu-like symptoms to come in fearing they've got anthrax?

RYAN: I think we'll have to wait and see what happens. I think the American public are pretty savvy about this, and I think right now at this time in our country, I think people are going to use their best judgment. And the possibility of getting anthrax at this point is similar to getting struck by lighting. So I would -- I would think that -- to answer your question, we've anticipated it. I don't think that's going to be a problem, and I just want to allay everybody's anxiety about this case because it just doesn't seem to fit the criteria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIN: He's trying to be reassuring but not a lot of answers it sounds like yet.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve is outside of Prince William Hospital covering that news conference.

Jeanne, it doesn't sound like they've made a confirmed diagnosis yet?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they haven't made a confirmed diagnosis, Carol, but the headline out of the remarks from Dr. Thomas Ryan were -- was this line: He said we do not think this is an anthrax case. This man described as about 40 years old, checked into this hospital last night with some flu-like symptoms. The reason he raised alarm bells is that he said he had a connection with AMI, that's the company in Florida where one worker has died, another has been found to be exposed to the anthrax violence -- excuse me, the anthrax bacteria. And so they decided they'd better go cautiously with this and do a battery of tests.

The doctor says today that it turns out the connection with AMI is rather remote, that in fact this man worked at a building here in Fairfax County outside of Washington. He had not been in Florida and at the facilities there, but that they did run a battery of tests on him here at the hospital. You heard Dr. Ryan speaking about that. They also have done a couple of tests down at the state lab in Richmond. All of those have turned out negative at this point. As for the final test results, Dr. Ryan says they just aren't sure exactly when those will be in. We do know that samples were taken from this hospital last night, relied -- relayed by state trooper down to Richmond. We presume the tests there are ongoing -- Carol.

LIN: Jeanne, did anybody ask the doctor whether there has been, I don't know, a lot of phone calls from people or at least a run on the prescription drug Sipro (ph), which would be used to treat a suspected anthrax case?

MESERVE: As a result of this particular case, I have to believe not given the hour of the morning and given the fact that this news is just breaking around the Washington area. The message from Dr. Ryan was clearly don't be alarmed, this is difficult to spread and as you heard him say, getting anthrax is about as likely as being struck by lightening. There appears to be an effort here to really calm down the public on this score -- Carol.

LIN: Well what can you tell us then about the FBI now being involved in this case -- in the Florida case at least?

MESERVE: All I know is what Dr. Ryan told us this morning which is that the FBI was notified. He did say that they had been in touch. They are the ones who investigating the connection with AMI and just how closely this man may have been related to them and what contact he might have had with the employees there, but beyond that I know little -- Carol. LIN: All right, thank you very much. Jeanne Meserve bringing us up to date outside of Prince William Hospital, Manassas, Virginia. Suspected third case of anthrax, but as you just heard, the doctors there saying that they do not believe that this is in fact an anthrax case.

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