USA: TWO POSTAL WORKERS WHO HANDLED MAIL FOR CAPITOL HILL DIE AND ARE TESTED FOR ANTHRAX
- Title: USA: TWO POSTAL WORKERS WHO HANDLED MAIL FOR CAPITOL HILL DIE AND ARE TESTED FOR ANTHRAX
- Date: 24th October 2001
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., USA (OCTOBER 22, 2001) (REUTERS) SLV HAZARDOUS MATERIALS WORKERS WALKING THROUGH ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING STAGING AREA WASHINGTON, D.C., USA (OCTOBER 21, 2001) (REUTERS) MV WORKERS IN BIOLOGICAL HAZARD SUIT ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING ON MAIL AT SENATE DIRKSEN BUILDING (2 SHOTS) WASHINGTON, D.C., USA (OCTOBER 22, 2001) (REUTERS) MV POLICE TAPE/CORDON CROSSING FRONT DOOR OF BRENTWOOD POST OFFICE; SCU SIGN OUTSIDE BRENTWOOD POST OFFICE WITH PULLOUT TO WIDE VIEW OF BUILDING (2 SHOTS)
- Reuters ID: LVATUBV4KIW37ZQP6396ZJJLCHU
- Location: WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Duration: 00:00:41
- Topics: Crime,Domestic Politics
- Story Text: Two Washington D.C. postal workers who handled mail for Capitol Hill have died and are being tested for anthrax inhalation and two others have tested positive for the deadly bacteria, health officials said.
Two men who worked at a postal facility that handles mail for the nation's capital have died, likely after being infected with anthrax and two more contracted the dangerous inhaled form of the disease amid a deepening threat involving germ warfare attacks by mail, officials said on Monday (October 22, 2001).
Postal workers lined up outside D.C. General Hospital to be tested for anthrax and were given a course of antibiotics to take as a preventive measure.
Health officials said they were awaiting the results of tests to confirm that the two men succumbed to anthrax.
U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge told a White House news conference: "Two postal employees who worked at the Brentwood postal facility here in Washington DC have tested positive for inhalation anthrax. Both of these workers are being treated with anti-biotics and obviously our best wishes are with them and their families. We also know that there are two very suspicious deaths that occurred today and here are the facts about both of these case. These Brentwood postal workers were seen by their doctors yesterday, both of these workers experienced respiratory complications and became critically ill and ultimately tragically passed away. We are still undergoing final tests to determine absolutely if their two deaths were related to Anthrax exposure. The cause of death to date is unclear but I will tell you what is very clear, it is very clear that their symptoms are very suspicious and their deaths are likely do to Anthrax."
The two men worked at the Brentwood central mail facility in Washington that handles mail for the city, including the U.S. Capitol.
If the deaths of the two postal workers are confirmed as being caused by anthrax, it would bring to three the total number of anthrax deaths in America this month. A supermarket tabloid photo editor, Bob Stevens, died in Florida from anthrax inhalation, the most deadly form of the bacterial infection.
It was unclear whether the postal workers who died or those who had anthrax inhalation had directly handled mail tainted with anthrax that was found in U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office last week. Twenty-eight Senate staff members have tested positive for anthrax exposure.
More than 2,200 postal workers from the large Brentwood facility and another postal center near Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland were being tested for anthrax. Both centers were closed while environmental tests were conducted.
Local health officials and Postal Service officials faced questions about why they did not order anthrax testing for employees at the Brentwood facility until Sunday despite the fact that the letter delivered last Monday to Daschle's office that contained anthrax bacterial spores had been processed at the center.
At a late afternoon news conference U.S. Capitol Police spokesman Dan Nichols gave the latest details in the Capitol Hill anthrax investigation: "I am pleased to announce that to date we have no new positive environmental sweeps, or swabs taken from any of the house or senate office buildings or the United States Capitol. That certainly is encouraging news.
With regard to the nasal swabbing, after approximately 5,000 nasal swabs tests that have been conducted, the number of positives remains at 28."
The U.S. Capitol building reopened on Monday as teams worked to finish sweeps for anthrax in surrounding congressional office buildings. Senate and House of Representatives office buildings, where most of the legislative work is done, remained closed while health workers tested for spores and checked out the ventilation systems for the bacteria.
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