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D.C. Postal Worker Contracts Inhalation Anthrax

Dr. Ivan Walks, the city’s chief health officer, told the Associated Press the unidentified man was hospitalized Friday with flu-like symptoms and was diagnosed Sunday.

Janice Moore, a spokeswoman for Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Va., told the AP the man “is acutely ill.”

The man is an employee at the Brentwood postal facility, which handles letters to the Capitol. Among the parcels delivered last week was an anthrax-laced letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)

Some 2,100 employees at the Brentwood facility and around 150 others at an air mail handling center near Baltimore will be tested for anthrax exposure beginning today, Williams said.

“We’re going to do everything we can and everything we have to do,” he said.

Both facilities will be closed indefinitely while testing is completed.

Florida photographer Bob Stevens died from the inhaled form of the disease Oct. 5. Ernesto Blanco, one of Stevens’ co-workers at American Media Inc., has also reportedly been diagnosed with inhalation anthrax, but the AP reports he is off intravenous medication and now taking oral antibiotics to treat the disease.

Between 4,500 and 5,000 Capitol Hill employees have been tested for anthrax exposure since the letter to Daschle was discovered Monday. Only 28 of those have tested positive for exposure — and Dr. John Eisold, the Capitol physician, says none have contracted the disease.

Health inspectors Saturday found anthrax bacteria in a mail bundling machine in a House office building.

House leaders adjourned on Wednesday after the letter mailed to Daschle was confirmed to have contained anthrax spores. The Senate remained in session as scheduled.

Capitol Police spokesman Lt. Dan Nichols said a sweep of the Capitol complex is underway, but did not indicate how soon the 19 buildings would be deemed safe.

Meanwhile, tests for anthrax at ABC offices in New York have come back negative, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said today.

A 7-month-old baby, the son of an ABC News producer, was diagnosed with the “skin” form of the disease last week. Investigators have not determined the source of the child’s infection, Giuliani said.