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RESPONSE TO TERROR | THE ANTHRAX THREAT

Letter in Chile Found to Have Anthrax

November 23, 2001|From Associated Press

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean and U.S. officials confirmed Thursday that a letter sent from Switzerland to Chile was tainted with anthrax--the first reported case of the deadly bacteria in mail not linked to the United States.

The letter containing the anthrax spores was received last week by a pediatrician at a children's hospital in Santiago, the Chilean Health Ministry said.

A statement from the Health Ministry said that testing handled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has "confirmed the presence of the anthraces bacillus in an envelope received in Chile."

CDC spokeswoman Lisa Swenarski said the agency had asked the health department in Miami to test the samples from Chile and that they had been confirmed as anthrax.

Dr. Antonio Banfi, who received the envelope at the Calvo Mackenna Hospital, became suspicious because the letter was postmarked in Zurich but marked for return to Florida, the government said. There were no other details.

The Chilean ministry said Banfi, who opened the envelope, and 12 others nearby have not tested positive for exposure to anthrax spores but underwent treatment as a precaution.

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