Letters in Pakistan, India test positive for anthrax

Friday, November 2, 2001

Associated Press WriterKARACHI, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan's largest newspaper evacuated some of its editorial offices after a letter tested positive for anthrax, one of two new overseas cases reported Friday.

In India, the health secretary of a western state said Friday that powder found in an envelope in a government office tested positive for anthrax and would be examined further.

Meanwhile, in Germany, initial tests came back positive for anthrax on a letter and two packages. Later tests in Berlin found no evidence of the bacteria, officials said.

Four people in the United States have died from inhalation anthrax and six more are infected with the most lethal form of the disease. Seven other people have developed the less dangerous skin anthrax. Most cases have been linked to the mail.

In Pakistan, white powder in a letter received Oct. 23 by the Daily Jang newspaper tested positive for anthrax, said Dr. Mohammed Tasleem of Agha Khan University Hospital in Karachi.

The reporter who opened the letter was put on antibiotics along with dozens of other staff members, though none showed any sign of anthrax symptoms.

Editorial offices on one floor of the newspaper were closed and signs reading "Anthrax Zone" were taped to the doors. Employees in other parts of the building wore plastic gloves and surgical masks.

In India, Maharashtra State Health Secretary Subhash Salunkhe said traces of anthrax were found on an envelope received by the office of the state's deputy chief minister. It was the first positive anthrax result in more than 200 cases of suspicious envelopes tested in India.

Most of the 120 employees at the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania are taking antibiotics -- although none showed symptoms of anthrax -- after a laboratory in the Baltic country confirmed Thursday that traces of anthrax were found in at least one mailbag at the embassy.

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