A letter containing anthrax-contaminated powder was mailed to NBC News headquarters in New York gave one employee a cutaneous or "skin" anthrax infection, a highly treatable form of the disease.
One employee at American Media Inc., a tabloid publishing company in Boca Raton, Fla., died on Oct. 5 after inhaling anthrax spores and another has been diagnosed with the often fatal inhalant form of anthrax. Six other AMI employees have tested positive for exposure to anthrax.
The news that the anthrax spores found in each case could be from the same strain suggests that the two incidents may be linked.
ABCNEWS this week became the third major news organization to become involved in a case of anthrax infection. A 7-month-old infant, who was in ABCNEWS headquarters for several hours on Sept. 28, was diagnosed with cutaneous anthrax on Monday. The child is the son of an ABCNEWS producer and is responding well to treatment.
Authorities announced today that a test of the ventilation system at ABCNEWS has turned up negative for the presence of anthrax spores. Although spores were found in the ventilation system at NBC, the first batch of tests of 500 employees have come back negative for anthrax or anthrax exposure.
• N.Y. Governor's Office Tests Positive
New York Gov. George Pataki announced today his offices in Manhattan have tested positive for "the likely presence of anthrax."
Pataki said a suspicious letter prompted his staff to alert authorities and that a preliminary test confirmed the likely presence of spores in a room used by state police officers assigned to the governor's security detail.
The governor said no members of his staff have tested positive for anthrax or anthrax exposure, but that he and his staff were taking antibiotics as a precautionary measure.
• Daschle, Brokaw Letters Believed Linked
Senior law enforcement officials told ABCNEWS investigators believe that a letter containing anthrax that was delivered to Daschle's office and another sent to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw's office in New York are linked.
A federal official who has seen the Daschle letter said it was dated "09-11-01," the date of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, and contained the message: "This is next. Take your medicine. Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is great."
A source who has seen the Brokaw letter said it was also dated "09-11-01" and read in part: "This is next. Take penacilin (sic) now. Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is great."
Both envelopes had prepaid postage and were postmarked in Trenton, N.J. and authorities have said the block handwriting on the outside of each envelope is similar.
Despite the similarities in the letters, however, officials say the anthrax-contaminated powders they contained are very different: The substance sent to Daschle was white and appeared to have been professionally manufactured, while the powder mailed to Brokaw was brown and crude in comparison.
• Feds: 'No Direct Link' to Bin Laden
Federal authorities say no evidence has emerged of a connection between the recent rash of anthrax attacks to last month's suicide hijacking strikes in New York and Washington.
"While we have not ruled out linkage to the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 or the perpetrators of that attack, we do not have conclusive evidence … that it is part of that endeavor," Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters at the Justice Department Tuesday.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said investigators had so far found "no direct link" between the anthrax cases and "organized terrorism."
President Bush has said "there may be some possible link" between the cases and terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.