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Monday, December 22, 2014

NJ Postal Anthrax Case Surfaces as NYC Death Heightens Concern Post 1

Posted by William on May 17, 2011

Even as the inhaled-anthrax death of a New York City hospital worker heightened concern about the spread of the deadly bacteria, a suspected case of skin anthrax surfaced in a regional New Jersey postal facility.

According to the Associated Press, the postal employee with the suspected case works as a mail processor in the Bellmawr regional mail facility in Camden County, about 35 miles from the Hamilton postal facility that handled at least three anthrax-tainted letters.

Ray Daiutolo, a spokesman for the Bellmawr office, said the worker’s blood tests were positive for anthrax antibodies and officials were awaiting results from a biopsy. Postal officials today halted all operations at the Bellmawr plant, which serves 159 local post offices and delivers mail to 1.1 million locations in southern New Jersey and parts of Delaware, the AP said.

New York City’s first inhaled-anthrax victim, Kathy Nguyen, died this morning after being in critical condition at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan for two and a half days, CNN reported.

And according to AP, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters today that a co-worker of Nguyen’s at the Manhattan Eye Ear and Throat Hospital had reported a skin lesion that raised concern. “Tests are being done. The tests were just undertaken, and so there’s nothing even preliminary to report,” Fleischer said.

Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant who was 61, worked in the supply room of the Manhattan hospital, which is now closed for environmental testing. She is the fourth person to die of inhalation anthrax and was only the second victim who had no connection to a postal facility, a government office or the media.

Doctor of the National Institutes of Health said today that preliminary tests at the hospital showed no other cases of anthrax and “that’s part of the mystery.”

“So all bets are off and [what] we really need to do — the public health officials, the forensic group — [is] a real full-court press on trying to track this down. This is critical,” he said, according to The New York Times.

CNN reported that all facility staff members, patients who had surgery in the hospital in the past 19 days and visitors who spent more than one hour inside the building will be offered treatment.

The other victim with no connection to a postal facility, government office or the media is a 51-year-old New Jersey accountant, who was released from a hospital three days ago after being successfully treated for skin anthrax. She works for a small accounting firm near the Hamilton facility that processed anthrax-tainted letters sent to Washington, D.C., and New York City, according to the AP.

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