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American Forces Press Service

Positive Initial Detection for Anthrax at Pentagon

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2005 Defense Department officials confirmed that a positive test for the presence of anthrax bacteria during routine mail operations today led to the evacuation of a Pentagon outbuilding. However, officials stressed, subsequent tests have been negative.

The Pentagon issued a statement saying the department is taking precautionary measures while conducting further testing of the Remote Delivery Facility, where the Pentagon’s mail is delivered.

Officials emphasized that the mail already had been irradiated under procedures put into place after a mail-borne anthrax attack killed several people in and around Washington in October 2001. If anthrax had been killed by the irradiation, officials explained, initial screening likely would still produce a positive indication.

DoD officials notified and briefed all mail-facility workers of the positive test. Officials said others who may have come in contact with the mail are being contacted and briefed as well. About 175 people work in and around the mail facility, and about 100 others may have come in contact with the mail during the delivery process, officials said.

All personnel who may have had contact with deliveries are being asked to provide nasal-swab cultures and are being provided with a three-day regimen of antibiotics to cover the period of further testing. The U.S. Army Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., is conducting confirmatory tests, and the results are expected in two to three days, officials said.

Any positive tests will be reported, and the personnel will be contacted, officials added.

Someone exposed to anthrax would experience fever, sweats and chills, officials said, noting that the typical onset of symptoms does not take place for several days.

Pentagon officials said they’re working closely with Arlington County, Va., officials, as well as with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service.

People who think they might have had contact with mail at the facility but have not yet been seen by a health care professional should contact the DiLorenzo Tricare Health Clinic at (703) 692-8810.

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