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Infant Who Visited ABC News Tests Positive for Anthrax

BY Admin  October 16, 2001 at 4:50 PM EDT

Authorities say the cutaneous form of anthrax is highly treatable and less dangerous than the more serious inhaled form of the disease.

ABC News President David Westin said the child’s condition initially baffled doctors.

“The baby showed symptoms within about a day. They were unusual symptoms that appeared to be related to an infection,” Westin told “Good Morning America.” “The hospital … had some difficulty diagnosing this, thought at first it was a spider bite.”

Westin said the baby is “doing much better” and said the child’s prognosis was good.

No ABC employees were being tested or treated with antibiotics, but investigators conducted environmental tests today to determine the source of the anthrax.

The ABC case came just days after an assistant to “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw was also diagnosed with cutaneous anthrax. Officials think that infection resulted from contact with a suspicious letter addressed to Brokaw Sept. 18.

Tests on a second NBC employee who showed symptoms came back negative for anthrax.

In the wake of these discoveries, police and health officials performed environmental surveys at many of New York’s other media outlets. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said those searches, which began last night, yielded no new traces of anthrax bacteria.

Officials searched mail rooms and other areas at CNN, CBS, the Associated Press, The New York Daily News, Fox News and The New York Post.

“We did that really as a preventative measure,” Giuliani told ABC News. “The police commissioner and the FBI and I thought it was a good idea to probably go test a group of other areas and I think we completed most of that last night and so far we haven’t come up with anything.”