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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 23:47 GMT
Chilean anthrax letter confirmed
Laboratory technicians at Russell Senate Office Building, which was decontaminated after a suspicious letter was found
US Senate buildings shut down due to an anthrax scare
The American Centre for Disease Control has confirmed the presence of anthrax spores in a letter sent from Europe to a doctor's surgery in Chile, according to Chilean officials.

The health ministry said they were studying samples of the bacteria to establish if it was of the same type as the spores found in letters in the US, where anthrax has killed five people.

The 13 people who were given antibiotics after being exposed to the bacteria are said to be in good health.

This is the first case of anthrax detected in Chile.

Suspicious envelope

The letter was sent to the private surgery of Antonio Banfi Pacheco, who is also a senior doctor at the children's hospital in the capital Santiago. He received it on 13 November.

Dr Banfi said he became suspicious after he noticed that the postmark was different from the return address. One was Swiss, the other from the US state of Florida.

He says he put the letter in a plastic bag, sealed it and took it to the Institute of Public Health to be analysed.

The Chilean authorities found traces of the bacteria and sent the sample to Atlanta for further confirmation.

On Wednesday, a 94-year-old woman from Connecticut became the fifth person to die from inhalation anthrax in the US.

Traces of anthrax have so far been found in several media organisations in the US, as well as federal and government offices and many postal facilities.

Since the death of the first victim of the outbreak, picture editor Bob Stevens, on 5 October, there have been thousands of scares across the world. Most of them have been false alarms.

See also:

21 Nov 01 | Americas
US anthrax woman dies
04 Nov 01 | Americas
Anthrax cases baffle investigators
01 Nov 01 | Americas
Anthrax kills fourth American
31 Oct 01 | Americas
Cost of anthrax attacks 'surges'
30 Oct 01 | Americas
Q&A: The anthrax mystery
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