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Journalist Undergoing treatment for Symptoms Similar to Inhalation Anthrax.

Aired October 25, 2001 - 14:11   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.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We've been telling you even earlier today since we learned late last night that a journalist is now undergoing treatment at a Maryland hospital for symptoms that are similar to inhalation anthrax. The journalist had been in the Hart Senate office building, where the anthrax letter sent to Senator Tom Daschle was opened.

CNN's Kathleen Koch joins us from Silver Spring, Maryland, where the journalist is being treated.

Hi, Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. The journalist came in here and was admitted Tuesday evening and at that point she reportedly told doctors here that she had been outside of Senate majority leader Tom Daschle's office in the Hart building last week. She was exhibiting flu-like symptoms. The same symptoms exhibited by five people who also have been admitted to this hospital who had ties to the Brentwood postal facility.

They are all in good condition. They're all being treated with a rigorous regimen of antibiotics. On Capitol this morning, though, journalist quizzed the Capitol Hill physician about whether or not antibiotics like Cipro definitively prevent anthrax infection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JOHN EIBOLD, U.S. CAPITOL PHYSICIAN: I am confident that nobody will. Has there ever been a clinical study on human beings that will answer that for me? I'm doing it now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: In addition to the six people hospitalized here, D.C. health officials are watching some nine other people whose illnesses suggest anthrax. We don't know that all of those are hospitalized. In addition to them, there are also some 26 patient whose are being evaluated and who had potential anthrax exposure.

At this point in the Washington, D.C., Virginia area there are only two patients who are being treated who have confirmed cases of anthrax infection. And these are the two postal workers who are hospitalized a Inova Fairfax Hospital with inhalation anthrax and they do remain in serious condition there.

Now because of those two workers and the death of the two postal workers, officials here are now expanding their testing beyond the Brentwood facility and the BWI facility where one of the hospitalized men worked, to all postal facilities, many of them in the Baltimore and suburban Maryland and suburban Virginia area.

Also nationwide postal officials are securing gloves and masks that can be optionally used by the 4-500,000 postal workers nationwide who process mail. Another step they are taking is they hope by the end of the week to have in place in certain high-risk areas, high-tech equipment that would sanitize the mail, that would kill any anthrax spores or of course other sorts of spores that might be present.

They are also hoping to begin testing, though they don't have any such technology in place at this moment, but some sort of detection device that might be installed in post offices, again, in high-risk areas that would let officials and workers there know if some sort of biological agent was present in the mail -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kathleen, thank you. That give us all a sense of how much more, apparently, is going on now than was happening even a few days ago and how much more even than Tom Ridge, the homeland security director announced at the White House. He described environmental in I think he said 200 postal facilities up and down the Eastern seaboard.

And talked about random sampling or testing in addition to that but it sounds as if there is even much more than that going on.

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