Wednesday, April 01, 2015

"Only a single spore was discovered on the keyboard and within Blanco's nasal passage."

That would add up to two spores if you were counting.

The record of the 2001 anthrax attack is rife with similar references to a "single spore" being isolated by a swab of office or postal equipment, or up someone's nostril, with officials then announcing to the media this represented another "exposure" in the spreading anthrax alarm, as the likely precursor to disease and even death.

This reminds me of an old, odd statistic---that something like 80 percent of the paper currency in circulation in the United States tests positive for cocaine---but that won't get you high, anymore than trace evidence of environmental anthrax will make anyone sicken or die.

Now watch how later reports will have the American Media building in Boca Raton being completely contaminated with s'more anthrax spores from top to bottom. The building stood shuttered for five years as experts worried over how to remediate it, as if the task were akin to cleaning up decades of PCB's from the bottom of the Hudson River.

Authorities were more than glad to have such large-scale facilities as the Brentwood central postal processing facility outside Washington, D.C, stand empty and hazardous for as long as possible, to give credence and legitimacy to their faked fakakta germ mailings psy-op.

October 9, 2001, Orlando Sentinel, Criminal Link Probed In Anthrax Cases; A Second Exposure Came To Light In Boca Raton, Raising Worries That The Infections Were Deliberate, by Robyn Suriano and Sean Mussenden, Sentinel Staff Writers,

Two puzzling cases of anthrax exposure in South Florida likely did not occur "without human intervention," the nation's top disease-control expert told U.S. Sen. Bob Graham on Monday.

The FBI launched an investigation into the possibility that the cases resulted from terrorism or a criminal act.

The Florida senator said he asked Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what the chances were that the anthrax could have occurred naturally.

Kaplan's response, according to Graham, was: "Nil to none."

Even so, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said officials have yet to draw any firm conclusions.

"We take this very seriously," Ashcroft said. "We haven't ruled out anything at this time."

Late Sunday, tests discovered anthrax bacteria in the nose of a co-worker of the Lantana man, Bob Stevens, who died last week from an anthrax infection in his lungs. The bacteria also were found on the computer keyboard in Stevens' office, said Florida Secretary of Health Dr. John Agwunobi.

The co-worker -- identified by fellow employees as 73-year-old Ernesto Blanco, who worked in the mail room at American Media Inc. -- is not sick from anthrax, officials said. But he is undergoing antibiotic treatment at a Miami-Dade hospital to ward off the possibility.

Officials closed American Media's Boca Raton office and began testing anyone who has been in the building for more than an hour since Aug. 1. In addition, all 500 people tested Monday were offered 60 days' worth of antibiotics as a precaution.

Stevens, 63, of Lantana, was an avid outdoorsman who was photo editor of The Sun, one of several supermarket tabloids published by American Media.

The bacteria is not contagious from person to person, meaning those exposed would have to pick it up from a contaminated source such as animal skins or soil. Anthrax occurs naturally among sheep, cows, deer and other animals, but it rarely causes human infections.

When people do get sick, they usually pick up the bacteria through cuts in their skin and develop non-fatal lesions. In scant cases -- a total of 18 confirmed in America for the entire 20th century -- people breathe the bacteria into their lungs and develop an almost-always fatal infection.

The case has American Media employees speculating that someone purposely mailed the anthrax to the tabloid. Most could think of no other plausible explanation.

"There weren't any dead cows in the newsroom. Nobody was bringing in any sheep hides," said one staff member, who asked not to be named.

David Pecker, CEO of American Media, said he did not think the company was being targeted by terrorists because of the papers' coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Osama bin Laden. "Our investigating is nothing different than the mainstream" media, he said.


Anthrax infection typically shows up in a person between two and seven days after exposure, though it can take as long as 60 days.

Whatever the source of the anthrax, health officials tried to calm fears Monday by saying the risk of additional infections is low because antibiotics can prevent the illness if they are given before symptoms appear.

They also said no additional exposures have been identified outside Stevens' workplace, despite an intense search for possible overlooked cases in Palm Beach County by a team of federal, state and local health officials.

"Thus far, everyone in South Florida has demonstrated a great deal of calm and a great deal of reason in the face of what we're looking at, and we continue to call for that calm," Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan said.


Infectious-disease and bioterrorism experts say it may take time to sort out the Palm Beach County situation. Several possibilities are being discussed:

Stevens could have contracted the bacteria from a natural source, such as an animal hide, and brought the contaminated object into work or simply carried bacterial spores from the object on his hands. He then passed them to his computer keyboard."The spores could come in on anything that has been contaminated; it's not impossible, let's put it that way," said Jacqueline Cattani, director of the Center for Biological Defense at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

In turn, Stevens' co-worker could have touched the keyboard and transferred an anthrax bacteria spore to his nose. Health officials said only a single spore was discovered on the keyboard and within Blanco's nasal passage.

Stevens breathed in the anthrax from an intentional release in the building, such as through the ventilation system, or as employees suggest, from an infectious letter.

But disease experts say a building-wide release through the ventilation system likely would have turned up more exposed people. The letter scenario is not implausible, but highly difficult to pull off, they suggest

"It's not illogical to think it could have been mailed to them, but you could come up with all kinds of scenarios right now," said Dr. Michael Muszynski, chief of infectious diseases for Nemours Children's Clinic in Orlando. "We really need to wait and let the Centers for Disease Control and their investigators do their jobs. They are really very good at tracing all the necessary data and they will eventually figure it out."

Stevens acquired the anthrax through an intentional release somewhere in the community. This possibility was given much attention initially, because suspected hijacker Mohamed Atta rented planes from an airstrip not far from Stevens' home. The second victim also would have to have been exposed in the same manner.

"I don't think it's likely, but I think it's possible, and it's certainly one thing that needs to studied: Are these couple of cases, in fact, a [bioterrorism] attack that failed" on a wide-scale level, said Will Moore, an associate professor of political science at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

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