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Non-Postal Worker in New Jersey Tests Positive for Skin Anthrax

The 51-year-old woman, whose name was not released, is a resident of Hamilton Township and handles mail at her job, authorities said.

Health officials say she developed a lesion on her forehead on Oct. 17 and a skin test was taken a week later. The woman was released from the hospital Sunday, one day before the biopsy results were returned.

Before this diagnosis, the 14 other known anthrax infections — both cutaneous and the more serious inhaled form of the disease — were limited to individuals connected to the postal system, the media or the government.

“I don’t think it appropriate to draw conclusions about what this latest case may imply,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, an epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Jersey Acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco said the infected woman worked at a business near a mail processing center that was shut down due to anthrax contamination. At least three letters containing the virus passed through the Hamilton facility in early October before being delivered to their ultimate destinations.

DiFrancesco has ordered testing for some of the 44 post offices that send mail to the Hamilton facility.

The letters believed to have contaminated the mail center were addressed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw and The New York Post.

Yesterday, state health department officials said one of two female postal workers with a respiratory illness had contracted inhalation anthrax. Two other New Jersey postal workers were previously diagnosed with the less-serious cutaneous form of the disease.

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