Daschle's staffers exposed to anthrax

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Daschle Staffers Exposed to Anthrax

By David Espo, AP Special Correspondent

Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2001; 12:59 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON Congressional leaders ordered an unprecedented shutdown of the House on Wednesday after more than two dozen people in Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office tested positive for exposure to a highly concentrated form of anthrax.

"We will not let this stop the work of the Senate," Daschle said at a news conference outside the Capitol. He said 31 people have had "positive nasal swabs," including two Capitol police officers.

Daschle made his announcement a short while after Speaker Dennis Hastert said that anthrax had been found in the Senate's mailroom.

"To ensure safety we thought it best to do a complete sweep, an environmental sweep," he said, adding that House members and staff would be sent home at day's end, until at least Tuesday.

Hastert also told reporters that anthrax had gotten "into the ventilation system." But a short while later, Scott Lillibridge, a bioterrorism expert at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the only known evidence of anthrax was found in Daschle's office across the street from the Capitol and in the Senate's mailroom in a second office building.

Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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