November 8, 2001 [06:20 AM ET] AP, Expert Testifies in NYC Anthrax Case, by Jim Fitzgerald, Associated Press Writer,
NEW YORK (AP) - The use of compressed air to clean mail-sorting machines was likely responsible for the spread of anthrax at a New York City postal station, a public health expert testified.
Traces of anthrax were found on five machines at the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center, and the New York Metro Area Postal Union has gone to court to demand that the giant postal station be closed.
The expert, Columbia University Professor Jeanne Stellman, said in federal court Wednesday that whoever sent anthrax through the mail "lucked into a perfect vector" as the bacteria spread and created bioterrorism fears.
The U.S. Postal Service says it has been assured the building is safe. No New York postal workers have shown anthrax symptoms."
Meanwhile, investigators pleaded for the public's help in retracing the last days of a hospital worker who died from inhaled anthrax. Officials said Wednesday they still don't know how Kathy Nguyen, 61, contracted the deadly disease.
"The key to this investigation...is just knowing where she was," said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.
Samples from Nguyen's apartment, where she lived alone, and the New York hospital where she worked have come back negative.
Seven other New York anthrax cases counted by the city Health Department are easily curable cases of skin anthrax linked to news outlets. The CDC has confirmed four cases.
One of the victims was an infant son of a woman who works at ABC and who visited the ABC building in September. On Wednesday, ABC confirmed that traces of anthrax were found last month in a small second-floor mailroom.
November 9, 2001, AP - University Press (Beaumont, Tex.), Vol. 78, No. 20, Ed. 1, Cleaning system may have spread anthrax at New York postal station,