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CBS, Postal Employees Test Positive for Anthrax

The CBS employee is being treated with antibiotics for the skin form of anthrax, the same type that has been found at two other major news networks in the past week.

“She is expected to make a full recovery; in fact, she feels fine,” CBS News president Andrew Heyward said this morning.

It is still not clear how the employee became infected, but CBS Radio reported the network had received a letter containing anti-American and anti-Israeli messages.

At a news conference, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said the CBS employee apparently began to experience facial swelling on October 1.

Cutaneous anthrax is less severe than the inhalational form that killed a Florida man two weeks ago. If treated with antibiotics, people infected with cutaneous anthrax almost always recover fully.

So far, six people have tested positive for anthrax – three in New York, two in Florida and the new case in New Jersey.

The New Jersey postal worker, who is suffering from the less severe skin form of anthrax, may have handled contaminated letters sent to NBC and the U.S. Senate, Acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco said Thursday.

Seeking to calm an anxious nation, Homeland Defense Director Tom Ridge said that despite the new cases, “thousands and thousands and thousands” of people had been tested for anthrax exposure and had come up negative.

“We are more vigilant today and continue to get more vigilant every day as we assess different risks that might present themselves in this country,” Ridge said in his first news conference since taking the job last week.

The FBI and U.S. Postal Service today announced a reward of $1 million for information leading to the arrest of the people who sent the anthrax through the mail.

FBI director Robert Mueller said that his agency has received several leads since authorities allowed the public to see the copies of two handwritten envelopes which contained anthrax.

So far, four people have been charged with federal felonies for anthrax hoaxes, and Attorney General John Ashcroft said that those hoaxes would prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.”

A preliminary link has been made between the anthrax found in the building of American Media Inc. and the anthrax found in the letter to NBC’s Tom Brokaw.

The strain of anthrax found in those locations occurs naturally and is found domestically in animals such as cows and deer, said officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authorities still do not know if the anthrax came from the same source.

The anthrax found in a letter addressed to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) seems to have been professionally made, meaning it was manipulated to keep the particle size small enough to be easily dispersed and inhaled, said a federal terrorism expert.

Daschle’s office received its anthrax-laden letter on Monday. The letter, whose envelope resembled the one sent to Tom Brokaw, reportedly contained a chilling warning: “You’ve been exposed to anthrax. You’re going to die.”

Twenty-nine members of Daschle’s staff and two Capitol police officers handling the case have tested postive for exposure to anthrax, but no one has been infected.

A day before CBS announced its anthrax case, New York Governer George Pataki announced that his Manhattan office had tested positive for anthrax bacteria.