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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 19:28 GMT
Anthrax found in Connecticut mail facility
A decontamination crew outside Lundgren's home in Oxford, Connecticut
The facility sorted mail for the town where Lundgren lived
Tests have detected small amounts of anthrax at a postal distribution centre in the American state of Connecticut, where a 94-year-old woman died from the disease.

The facility is reported to sort mail for the town of Oxford where Ottilie Lundgren, a widow, lived.

The bacteria was discovered on four mail sorting machines at the Southern Connecticut Processing & Distribution Center in the town of Wallingford.

Deceased Connecticut woman Ottilie Lundgren
Lundgren did not initially appear to have any links to the anthrax attacks in America
The building had tested negative three times previously for anthrax, but workers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used a special vacuum with a filter developed to detect even the most minute amounts of the deadly bacteria.

In other anthrax-related developments:

  • The New York Times newspaper quoted an American scientist as saying it is "definitely possible" that the source of anthrax could be American
  • Workers on Saturday pumped a poisonous gas into the Washington office of US Senator Tom Daschle in an attempt to kill the anthrax bacteria
  • Bio-terrorism experts on Friday opened the anthrax-infected letter sent to Senator Patrick Leahy

John Steele, vice president of the Postal Service's Northeast Area Operations, said that the machines would most likely have been contaminated by an anthrax letter bound for an address in the town of Seymour, only a few miles from where Lundgren lived.

The letter was sent on 9 October, the same day as those anthrax-contaminated letters sent to Senators Daschle and Leahy in Washington, the Associated Press news agency quoted authorities as saying.

The letter had reportedly contained a single spore of anthrax, but a link has yet to be firmly established between Lundgren and the letter.

'Small amount'

The state's commissioner of public health, Dr Joxel Garcia, said that the public should not panic over the findings.
US Anthrax cases
Five fatal inhalation anthrax cases
Six recovering inhalation anthrax cases
11 recovering cutaneous anthrax cases
37 people exposed to anthrax bacteria

"This is a very small amount of anthrax," he said.

"The people of Connecticut should not be concerned about opening their mail."

Health officials also said that 900 postal workers out of the 1,200 employed by the plant were being treated with antibiotics as a precaution.

Officials from the CDC, FBI, state health departments and the Postal Service also met on Sunday to discuss similarities between Lundgren's case and that of New York hospital worker Kathy Nguyen, who died 31 October, also from inhalation anthrax.

The case of Nguyen has mystified investigators, as she does not appear to have a firm link to any of the anthrax-infected areas.

See also:

30 Nov 01 | Americas
Anthrax letter could yield clues
22 Oct 01 | Health
Warning over anthrax antibiotic
23 Nov 01 | Americas
Anthrax: Charting the US cases
29 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Mail sterilisation: The options
30 Oct 01 | Americas
Q&A: The anthrax mystery
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