Experts question if one letter spread D.C. anthrax : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Experts question if one letter spread D.C. anthrax

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Investigators considered Saturday whether more than one anthrax-laced letter may have worked its way through Washington's mail system, spreading contamination to more than a dozen places.

A contaminated letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle went through Washington's main mail-processing facility on Brentwood Road on its way to the senator's office, authorities believe. Spores may have been shed off and transported to other government facilities in trace amounts.

Nearly all mail to government sites is routed through Brentwood, including all the locations that have shown signs of anthrax contamination so far. But the news this week that an employee at a remote State Department mail center had contracted inhalation anthrax -- which would probably take more than trace amounts to cause -- led investigators to a new "working hypothesis," sources told CNN.

Cross-contamination alone could not be making people as sick as they are, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sources told CNN's Rhonda Rowland, and the State Department employee did not visit the Brentwood facility or Daschle's office. Capitol Police Lt. Dan Nichols said that investigators were "back-tracking." "We are exploring cross-contamination or another piece of mail," he said.

Latest developments

Mailroom workers in "several thousand" Washington businesses have been asked to come in for tests to determine if they have been exposed to the anthrax bacteria, Washington's chief health officer, Dr. Ivan Walks, told CNN Saturday. Walks said that more than 10,000 people been tested, and the number "will get profoundly larger."

Government officials told The Washington Post that top FBI and CIA officials think the anthrax attacks in Washington, New York and Florida are likely the doing of United States extremists probably not connected to the al Qaeda terror network. (Full story)

Hundreds of people turned out Saturday to mourn anthrax victim Joseph Curseen Jr., a 15-year veteran of the postal service. A funeral was held Friday for Thomas Morris Jr., 55, of Suitland, Maryland, who was poisoned by anthrax after working for the postal service for 28 years. (Full story)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have switched to doxycycline as the antibiotic of choice for combating anthrax infection, officials said. Authorities initially prescribed ciprofloxacin, manufactured under the name Cipro, but made the switch because the anthrax strain is sensitive to a wide range of antibiotics.

An attorney for the New York Metro Postal Union formally notified the country's top postal official Friday that the U.S. Postal Service is to be sued unless it closes a Manhattan mailing facility where anthrax was found. The attorney also filed notices with the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. attorney general and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. (Full story)

A second Washington postal facility was shut down Friday after traces of anthrax were found in the building. A carrier case at the Southwest Post Office tested positive for the presence of anthrax spores, said U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Willhite. (Full story)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will administer anthrax vaccine to "high risk" laboratory workers and decontamination specialists and may later expand the program to some postal workers, the federal agency said Friday. (Full story)

On Capitol Hill, investigators found three anthrax hotspots in the Longworth House Office Building, government sources told CNN Friday. One source described the findings as "small trace amounts" while another called the results "definitive." The bacteria were found along the mail delivery route in the building. (Full story)

U.S. Supreme Court officials said Friday there's no evidence of anthrax contamination at the main court building after the bacteria were found on a filter removed from the court's off-site mail inspection warehouse. All employees of the nation's highest court are undergoing tests for exposure.

-- Swissrose (, October 27, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ