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Anthrax Scare: Where Has Anthrax Been Found?

Aired October 15, 2001 - 06:32   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.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well many of the places where suspicious letters are turning up are turning out to be news organizations. But the letters have cropped up so fast you may have lost count of them or even where these cases are being investigated.

CNN's Jason Carroll sorts it all out for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This mail center in Hamilton, New Jersey processed the letter health officials say is the source of anthrax that infected an NBC employee. The sealed envelope was postmarked September 18th from nearby Trenton, New Jersey and addressed to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw.

Late Sunday New York's mayor says the police officer who opened that letter and the two lab technicians who handled it were exposed to anthrax spores.

MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI (D), NEW YORK CITY: The police officer who actually retrieved the envelope upon testing, spores were found in his nose and he was treated immediately with Cipro.

Two of the lab technicians, one actually has - was found to have only one spore in her nose or appears to be one. She's being treated and another lab technician had some on her face and she's also being treated.

DR. STEVE OSTROFF, CDC: In the presence of spores, either on somebody's face or in the nasal passages, does not necessarily imply that they were exposed to a sufficient number of spores or that - or that that will ever then lead to any type of disease.

CARROLL: Initially investigators focused on another letter sent to Brokaw. So far results from tests on that letter and one sent to "The New York Times" are negative. To date, the mayor says only one NBC employee, assistant to Tom Brokaw, has a confirmed case of anthrax.

She has a cutaneous form of the disease, a skin infection. A second employee has symptoms, which may indicate exposure. Tests are still under way. Both are being treated with antibiotics. Physically both employees are doing well. ANDREW LACK, PRESIDENT OF NBC NEWS: I feel pretty good that we've worked our way through the health issue, which is my primary concern first -- that for my colleagues, they can be assured that their health is not at risk.

CARROLL (on camera): There is concern at NBC and in Hamilton, but city officials say it does not appear as if anyone at the mail facility was infected. They say every precaution will be taken here and throughout the system nationwide.

JOHN POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL: Since September 11th, we've delivered over 15 billion pieces of mail. We have a handful of cases that are being investigated. So the first thing you do is understand that there's an infinitesimally small risk out there. However, let me assure you that even one case is one too many.

CARROLL (voice-over): And while investigators continue to search for the person who sent the anthrax laced letter, hundreds of NBC employees continue to wait for test results to see if they were exposed.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Hamilton, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The FBI says that two of the suspected September 11th hijackers rented an apartment from a realtor whose husband is the editor of the Florida tabloid where an employee died from anthrax.

Here now is a look at where anthrax has shown up in the U.S. You already know about the Florida cases. In New York, the FBI continues to investigate the substance sent to NBC News and in Reno, Nevada no one has yet been diagnosed with anthrax so far, but not all of the tests are complete.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LACK: We have some good news, some very important news. We've just been told by the Department of Health that as three weeks now have passed since the letter that arrived or was postmarked on September 18th, which we've identified as the source of the anthrax.

Since three weeks now, over three weeks has passed since that time, if you were going to get sick or ill from anthrax, it would have happened already. So that's not happening clearly, and we don't have anyone at least identified to us at this point, amongst our NBC colleagues who are coming down with any of the symptoms that we know are associated with cutaneous anthrax.

But the two individuals involved that we have identified inside the NBC group, Tom's assistant - Tom Brokaw's assistant, and another individual who opened the letter, they're being treated, of course, with Cipro, the antibiotic, the prophylactic that attacks the symptoms that are associated with anthrax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Meanwhile a Boston Globe editor doesn't seem to be too concerned about a suspicious letter that he received on Friday. The editor is not taking any antibiotics, but his test results aren't back yet either.

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