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Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Clinton sent salmonella vials
Bill Clinton
Clinton was not in the office at the time
Former US President Bill Clinton has been sent vials containing traces of the common food poisoning bacteria salmonella through the post.

Jim Mackin, a spokesman for the Secret Service - an agency which looks after the security of current and former presidents - said the incident had nothing to do with recent anthrax attacks.


Certainly it is unusual and we will run it down, but there's nothing that links this to the anthrax letters

Secret Service spokesman
An aide opened the package, which arrived three weeks ago at Mr Clinton's office in the Harlem area of New York.

The former president was nowhere around at the time.

Mr Mackin said that the vials contained an unknown substance which had, in two of them, fermented into salmonella.

He added that "certain writings" were included in the package but would not comment further.

No-one has been taken ill as a result of handling the package.

Symptoms

Infection with the salmonella bacteria can cause fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting.

It can become life-threatening - especially if the infection spreads to other parts of the body such as the blood or bone.

Salmonella food poisoning reportedly affects over a million Americans every year.

The bacteria was also used in a biological attack in the state of Oregon in 1994.

Members of a religious cult succeeded in poisoning local restaurant salad bars, injuring more than 700 people. No one is believed to have died as a result of the attack.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in New York
"It was contained in more than a dozen vials"
See also:

25 Oct 01 | Americas
Anthrax spreads on Capitol Hill
27 May 98 | Medical notes
Salmonella
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