Third Person Tests Positive for Anthrax in Florida : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday October 10 8:35 PM ET

Third Person Tests Positive for Anthrax in Florida BOCA RATON, Fla. (Reuters) - A third person has tested positive for anthrax in Florida and the probe into the source of the disease is now a criminal investigation, officials said on Wednesday.

``We have an additional employee that has been found to have anthrax present,'' said FBI special agent in charge Hector Pesquera.

Acting U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis said the investigation was now considered a criminal probe. Pesquera stressed there was no indication the anthrax was produced or caused by a terrorist group or individuals related to the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Investigators have been looking into the source of anthrax that killed one man at the offices of tabloid publishers American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida. A mailroom employee, was also exposed to the disease and on Wednesday officials announced a 35-year-old woman tested positive.

Officials stressed the exposure was limited to the AMI building.

Experts say the rare disease can be used as a biological warfare agent. But a senior government health official earlier on Wednesday sought to allay any such fears in this case.

``If this was a massive exposure, there should be lots of people sick. We are not finding that,'' Dr. Scott Lillibridge, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson's special assistant for bioterrorism, told members of Congress in Washington.

But the Florida contamination has fueled fears in a public already on edge over last month's hijack attacks.

Many Boca Raton residents have pointed to the fact that some of the suspected hijackers lived in south Florida in recent months and some made inquiries about crop-dusting planes.

Federal investigators grounded crop-dusters for a period last month out of concern they could be used in biological or chemical attacks. Such flights have now resumed.

-- Jackson Brown (, October 10, 2001

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