Anthrax infections confirmed

Folks, I don’t want to pull the trigger and say that this is definitively an attack, since the Health and Human Services Secretary has said there’s no evidence for a link between the outbreak and terrorism, but it’s seeming like a bigger and bigger coincidence all the time.

In short, one woman has tested positive for cutaneous anthrax after having handled a suspicious package at the Rockefeller Center in NYC.

An envelope containing white powder has also been found at the State Department.

Four postal workers are being tested for exposure to anthrax after being exposed to white powder from an envelope.

And A DoD investigative team has found evidence of anthrax at Soviet-era facilities in Kazakhstan. They are being tested for exposure.

One thing that strikes me in particular is that, if these are attacks, they are particularly inept and limited in scale.

And yes, I’m knocking on wood.

Just keeps getting worse . . .

I hope I’m not violating any forum rules by mentioning that there’s a discussion about most of this over in imho:

FWIW, the NY case is skin Anthrax, not lung Anthrax like in Florida.

Lung Anthrax has an 80% mortality rate, while skin Anthrax has only a 20% mortality rate - it’s not as bad. It’s also the one that can be picked up from cows.

I don’t know what this means, but if the same people are behind both Anthrax outbreaks, they’ve started using a cheaper version of the bacteria.

I don’t think that the recent anthrax infections are tied to terrorists. To me, it seems that there is a Unamailer of somesorts at work.

I may be wrong about this, but I don’t think the difference lies in the type of bacteria at all. I was under the impression that the same bacteria can cause the different forms of the disease, depending on the mode of exposure.

IOW, you breathe it in, you get inhalational anthrax. You ingest it, you get intestinal anthrax. You get it in a wound, you get cutaneous anthrax.

Tell me if I’m mistaken here.

This method of attack is horribly inefective. After the fist case, we’ve been able to save everyone with antibiotics. And now that alarm bells are going off any time anybody sees a mysterious envelope, there will be few further cases.

Considering how inefective this apparent attack has been, one must consider laughing at the terrorists in response. IMHO, that is.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not discounting the possibility of an independent group or person perpetrating it. I’m just saying that it appears (to me) that an attack of some sort may be in the offing. I’m still hoping that we’re all falling victim to the “Summer of the Shark Syndrome,” though.

If it is an attack, though, it seems quite inept and controllable. We’re jumping at any white powder we receive in the mail, even if it’s a sample-size box of Tide. Anyone who has a suspicious ant bite is going to have it checked out. And remember that it has only killed one person thus far. Without trying to trivialize his death, that doesn’t seem like a good record for a “weapon of mass destruction.”

Ogre, it looks like you’re right. Various links at the CDC page on anthrax seem to indicate that each kind of infection results from the one bacteria being contracted in the 3 different ways.

More info.

Update: the powder that the four postal workers were exposed to turned out to be “harmless pudding powder.”

Man I hope this doesn’t trigger a wave of stupid pranks…

I’m terribly sorry!

Here we are fighting ignorance, and I’m spouting off half-understood propaganda from unconfirmed sources!

I’m not a biologist, and I don’t understand how the whole anthrax thing works, so I was merely repeating what I’d taken from various news reports over the last couple of weeks. Obviously I misinterpreted what I was reading.

Please, carry on.

We had a long discussion about anthrax today in biology. From what I learned, it doesn’t seem like that kind of thing that would be connected to terrorism at all. If it is, then it’s a damn uneffective way to go about killing people.

The only serious form of anthrax is inhalational anthrax. That’s the only one that is a possible risk because the symptoms are that of a mere flu. Most people disregard it and don’t realize what’s really wrong with them until it could be too late.

In order to get this type you anthrax you have to inhale 10,000 spores of the bacteria. Thats a helluva lot. You won’t get it from opening an envelope of white powder. If someone wanted to spread this kind of anthrax throughout just one small city it would cause 1 billion dollars to manage to produce such a mass amount of it. They would also need the technology to do so.

Well that’s the basics of what I remember from the lecture. If anything I said was wrong, I’d like to know. Also, sorry if I repeated anything said somewhere else. I don’t often venture into GD, GQ, or IMHO.

Possible Anthrax in Nevada now.

Cite here:

They told me about this yesterday at work as I was opening the mail. (You’ve never seen mail fly so fast in your life.) What I’m wondering is if I should buy some rubber gloves to put on as I do the mail every day or if I’m being over reactionary. I don’t work for a small company that no one has heard of - it’s one of the largest health organizations in the state of NY. And I work in the provider relations department, which means we get a lot of mail anyway. I’d like to take every precaution I can, but I’d really rather not overreact. Any advice?

Wear the gloves. Thats’ what I’d do. Especially if you are a part of a health provider… they should not only have gloves available, but I would think be encouraging their use.

Actually it’s a health insurance organization (how did I miss that the first 6 times I read it?!) and I know the nurse upstairs does… but I don’t think we have any in our department. I never see members, and rarely see doctors. I don’t mind buying them for myself. That way, I can bring them home and use them for housecleaning and the like as well… but opening the mail, yeah, it’s making me nervous now.

In Montreal, a large section of downtown was cordoned off last week when some office workers received a package from the tabloid newspaper where the infections took place in Florida. The package hadn’t been opened yet. It was later determined to be harmless.

TruePisces - I am not a doctor, but looking at the websites on anthrax, I don’t think gloves are going to make much of a difference. Cutaneous anthrax “is transmitted through a break in the skin.” This sounds like your best bet is to make sure you don’t have any open wounds, and to be very careful opening packages. OTOH the gloves could prevent paper cuts, which you want to avoid right now.

Inhalation anthrax is probably a greater threat, and I don’t see any way to stop this. If you open a suspicious package that has any sort of powder in it, you will have to report this to the FBI at once. Then get treated as if you have already got the disease.

Here is the FBI’s advisory on suspicious packages:

truepices, i work a mail/copy center. on friday we had a brief discussion on what we would do about mail dist. after the events in nyc and the press conference with the postmaster general. on monday after the florida event, i told my staff if they felt at all at risk, the latex gloves are on the first aid shelf … use them. on friday i told them again, they are there, use them. paper cuts are so prev. in our area that it would be silly not to think about using gloves. monday we are going to discuss the guidelines from the postmaster general.

we get about 3-4 tubs of mail a day at my office, i can just see us trying to match up postmarks with return addresses, etc. it is easier to say: use the gloves, check for powder or stains.