- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Two D.C. postal workers died this week of inhalation anthrax and three others are being treated for the disease at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, D.C. officials said yesterday as more cases of anthrax exposure were reported in the region and in New Jersey.
The postal employees all worked at the District's central mail processing facility on Brentwood Road NE, where anthrax spores have been found in several areas. Another D.C. postal employee, a 60-year-old man, who worked at the Brentwood facility was being treated for anthrax exposure at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson yesterday.
Meanwhile, a postal worker in New Jersey has been diagnosed with the disease and was hospitalized in serious condition yesterday.
Last night, four postal employees from the Merrifield post office in Fairfax County were admitted at Inova Fairfax Hospital, each complaining of flulike symptoms, said U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican. Hospital officials could not confirm immediately whether the workers had contracted inhalation anthrax, the deadliest form of the disease.
The Merrifield post office does business with the Brentwood facility, which routes several million packages and pieces of mail daily to almost every corner of the District, including Capitol Hill and the offices of the House and Senate.
So far, three person have died from inhalation anthrax nationwide, and four others diagnosed with the disease are hospitalized including the two postal workers in the District, one man in Florida and the postal worker in New Jersey.
Others infected with skin anthrax, a highly treatable form of the disease, include employees and family members at the New York offices of the New York Post, ABC, CBS and NBC, and the Florida offices of American Media Inc., a tabloid publisher.
Also, 28 staff members on Capitol Hill have tested positive for exposure to anthrax. They include two Capitol Hill police officers, two aides to Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, and 21 staffers who work for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
D.C. officials have directed all 2,000 employees at the city's 36 neighborhood post offices to be treated for exposure to anthrax at D.C. General Hospital, along with 3,000 postal workers and visitors to the Brentwood facility, which was declared a crime scene yesterday.
"We in the Postal Service are at war," U.S. Postmaster General Jack Potter said yesterday. "A war against terrorism. Our job is to win that war."
Mr. Davis said he believes this is only the beginning. "I think there will be more" letters, he said, citing the Merrifield case as evidence of the bacteria's spreading.
D.C. health director Dr. Ivan Walks said that as many as 20 anthrax-related cases have so far been linked to the Brentwood facility.
Four postal cases have been confirmed, including the two deaths and two hospitalizations. Five other cases are listed as suspicious and 12 others are listed as not very suspicious. The two Brentwood postal employees, who were diagnosed with having anthrax Sunday, remain in serious but stable condition at Fairfax Hospital.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said the Brentwood facility has tested positive for anthrax spores. Postal Service officials said of the 29 areas tested, 14 were contaminated with spores.
Meanwhile, the FBI began a murder investigation into the deaths of the two postal employees, Joseph P. Curseen, 47, of Camp Springs, and Thomas Lee Morris Jr., 55, of Suitland. Both victims had worked in the back room of the employee area at Brentwood during the last 11 days.
"An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us," said Claude Allen, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "An attack on a postal worker is an attack on every citizen in this country."
The agency also confirmed yesterday it is investigating whether other anthrax letters were processed through Brentwood. The only known anthrax-laced letter was sent to Mr. Daschle.
Officials also urged all the District's 3,400 postal employees to get treatment for exposure. Because of the high number of cases, no further testing is needed, said Dr. Walks. "We need to treat and treat quickly," he said.
Among those who have been treated were Mr. Williams and his mother, Virginia Williams, members of the mayor's security detail and communications staff, who visited the Congressional Heights and Brookland post offices Friday to show their support for postal employees.
City officials also advised Postal Service officials and members of the news media who attended a Postal Service press conference at Brentwood last week to get treated as well. Neither the mayor nor any city officials attended that event, said Tony Bullock, the mayor's spokesman.
All employees will be given a 10-day supply of the antibiotic Cipro. Officials said about 2,000 workers from the Brentwood facility, where traces of anthrax had been detected, will need a full 60-day supply.
City officials do not believe patrons who have visited a post office need treatment.
Mr. Potter said the Postal Service has mailed out a postcard to an estimated 37 million households throughout the country that provides information about what to look for in suspicious letters and packages.
He also said the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and all police agencies have put up a $1 million reward to find those who have sent the anthrax through the mail.
Postal Service spokesman Gerry Kreienkamp said he doubts the contamination at the Brentwood facility was passed onto any letters or parcels at other post offices like Merrifield. He said no tests have been done at the Merrifield office because there "is no reason to suspect" anthrax may be present there.
Daniel Drummond, Jim Keary, Guy Taylor and Jerry Seper contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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