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NBC Employee Tests Positive for Anthrax

NBC announced today that the a female employee’s biopsy came back positive this morning, but she has been taking antibiotics since October 1, and is responding well.

The woman had apparently come in contact with a suspicious piece of mail on Sept. 25. Original visits to doctors did not show any infection, but the doctor began a round of medication. Several tests on the piece of mail did not show any traces of anthrax.

The NBC employee had apparently been suffering from a low-grade fever and a bad rash, prompting the biopsy that came back positive for cutaneous anthrax this morning.

At a news conference responding to the case, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said “the chances that this is contained are very good.”

As a precaution, authorities have closed off the third floor of the NBC headquarters in the Rockefeller Center where she worked and are currently conducting tests.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, however, said there was “no proof” that the infection is connected with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said at a news conference that a criminal investigation is under way into the case.

About 95 percent of all cases of anthrax result from skin contact with infected animals or tissue.

Anthrax can be treated with antibiotics, including Cipro or penicillin. Left untreated, the bacteria kills about 20 percent of those infected.

The cases in Florida involved a far less common form of anthrax that is said to be harder to treat. All three of the people exposed to the inhaled anthrax spores were employees of American Media, where several popular tabloid newspapers are published.

One man died on October 5, but the other two people are said to be in good condition and responding to treatment.

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