Anthrax found in Pentagon Post Office

Monday, November 5, 2001

Associated Press WriterWASHINGTON (AP) -- Two postal boxes at a U.S. Post Office inside the Pentagon have tested positive for anthrax, officials said Monday. One of the boxes was rented by an unidentified Navy service member and the other was unassigned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took samples from the office Tuesday, and the test results were returned Saturday. Two of 17 samples taken tested positive, the Pentagon said.

The office was decontaminated Sunday and "retesting results were all negative," said a statement issued at the Pentagon.

Pentagon spokesman Glen Flood said he had no information about the Navy service member who had rented the box, or about the anthrax found during the testing.

The Navy has been contacted "with the individual's name and box number," the statement said.

The Post Office is located in a far corner of the commercial concourse of the Pentagon, which contains a bank, several shops and food kiosks that serve the thousands of workers in the building.

It is separate from the Defense Department's own mailroom, which has been tested twice with negative results, the statement said.

"All post office box patrons of the Pentagon Concourse Post Office will be screened" Monday, the statement said, although it did not indicate how that screening would be conducted.

The facility had been scheduled for random testing because it gets its mail from the Brentwood Post Office in the District of Columbia, which was closed Oct. 15 because of the discovery of anthrax there, the statement said.

Six employees in the concourse post office had been put on precautionary medication shortly after the discovery of anthrax at Brentwood, the Pentagon said.

Trace amounts of anthrax also were found in the mailroom of the Washington Veterans Affairs Medical Center, based on tests completed Saturday by the CDC.

VA spokesman Phil Budahn said five mailroom employees have been on antibiotics since Oct. 25 as a precaution. He said the hospital's 250 patients would be monitored, but it was thought unlikely that anthrax could have spread beyond the mailroom, which closed Wednesday for cleaning.

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