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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 00:33 GMT 01:33 UK
Sixth anthrax case hits US
Police outside New York Governor George Pataki's office
People demanding tests swamp emergency services
Officials have confirmed two more cases of anthrax infection in the United States - bringing the total to six - and offered a $1m reward for information as they tried to calm public fears.

A New Jersey postal worker and an employee of CBS News in New York both tested positive for skin anthrax.

Anthrax cases so far
Two employees of American Media Inc in Florida contracted inhaled anthrax - one died
Assistant at NBC TV in New York has skin anthrax
Baby son of an ABC TV producer in New York has skin anthrax
Woman at CBS TV in New York has skin anthrax
Postal worker in New Jersey has skin anthrax
Six American Media Inc employees tested positive for exposure to anthrax
Two lab technicians and a policeman in New York tested positive for exposure
31 people at the Capitol complex in Washington tested positive for exposure

All three major TV networks in New York City, the Capitol Hill complex in Washington and a tabloid newspaper company in Florida have now become sites of anthrax infection.

And in the first anthrax mail attack confirmed outside the US, the Kenyan Government said four people had been exposed to the bacteria from a letter posted from America.

Security officials in the US held a series of press conferences aimed at reassuring the public that they were safe from the threat of anthrax.

US law enforcement officials said there was no evidence linking the anthrax scares with "foreign terrorists", although nothing had been ruled out.

The White House has refused to discard the possibility that the outbreaks of anthrax are the work of Saudi-born dissident Osama Bin Laden.

The US considers Bin Laden the prime suspect in the 11 September suicide attacks on New York and Washington, and has demanded that the Taleban authorities in Afghanistan hand him over.

The postal worker may have become infected by handling contaminated letters sent to the NBC TV network and to the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, officials said. Both letters had New Jersey postmarks.

Post being examined
Information is being sent out on how to spot a suspect package
In Kenya, four members of the same family were exposed to anthrax spores from a letter mailed from Atlanta in the US, Kenyan Health Minister Sam Ongeri said. He stressed that they were in no danger.

The CBS employee who tested positive for the disease is an assistant to news anchor Dan Rather.

She is being treated with antibiotics and is expected to make a full recovery.

Mr Rather said the problem Americans faced was not anthrax but fear, and those most at risk were those who feared most.

US Director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, tried to assuage public fears.

Our biggest problem isn't anthrax; our biggest problem is fear

Dan Rather of CBS News

"We have tested thousands and thousands of people and in the course of those thousands of tests only five people have tested positive," he said.

But, he said, officials were checking test results for a possible seventh victim.

FBI director Robert Mueller said his investigators were "following each and every lead" to track down those responsible for the contaminated letters.

Cipro supply at pharmacy
Some people have been hurrying to buy anti-anthrax drugs
After thousands of false alerts, he also warned that anyone perpetrating an anthrax hoax would be prosecuted.

The FBI and the US Postal Service have offered a reward of up to $1m for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who sent anthrax through the mail.

The health authorities and emergency services in New York have complained that they are being swamped by nervous members of the public demanding nasal swabs.

All American homes are to be sent an information card detailing how to spot a suspicious letter or package and what to do with it.

The US House of Representatives and several Congressional offices have shut down until next Tuesday after a contaminated letter was sent to the Senate majority leader.

But the Senate is continuing to work, although 31 employees have tested positive for anthrax exposure.

In New York, one NBC TV news assistant is receiving treatment for skin anthrax, as is the seven-month-old son of an ABC TV producer who is thought to have been infected during a visit to his father's office.

In Florida, one man has died and another is receiving treatment for respiratory anthrax after an outbreak at American Media Inc.

The BBC's Nick Bryant in Washington
"America is battling for its way of life"
The BBC's Fergus Walsh
reports on the increasing anxiety that anthrax could begin to infect other parts of the world
See also:

18 Oct 01 | Americas
Bio-labs face tight security
17 Oct 01 | Americas
Anthrax: Vehicle for spreading fear
18 Oct 01 | Americas
Senate workers line up for tests
17 Oct 01 | Americas
Using anthrax as a weapon
16 Oct 01 | Americas
Tracking the anthrax spore
15 Oct 01 | Health
Q&A: Anthrax
18 Oct 01 | Africa
Kenya finds anthrax letter
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