"Some symptoms that they were having that could be loosley construed as being anthrax symptoms," he said. "They could also be symptoms from common cold and flu-like symptoms."
• Second Florida Employee Ill With Anthrax
Meanwhile, Florida state officials confirmed mailroom worker Ernesto Blanco has been diagnosed with the inhaled form of anthrax.
Blanco, 73 and employed at American Media Inc in Boca Raton, has been in a Miami hospital since last Monday after doctors discovered anthrax spores in his nose. His fellow employee at AMI, photo editor Bob Stevens, died on Oct. 5 after inhaling anthrax spores, and seven others at the tabloid publishing company are now being treated for exposure to the bacteria. A section of the Boca Raton post office that processes mail sent to AMI was shut down and sealed off today after a small amount of anthrax spores was discovered there.
Federal authorities, meanwhile, expect to know soon whether the anthrax spores that infected a woman in New York are from the same strain that killed a Florida man. The Centers for Disease Control were nearing completion an analysis of anthrax spores discovered at American Media Inc, and those found in the letter sent to NBC.
Erin O'Connor, Brokaw's personal assistant, contracted cutaneous, or "skin," anthrax after opening a letter addressed to the NBC anchor. The cutaneous form of anthrax, unlike the inhaled form, is rarely fatal if treated properly.
A New York City police officer and two laboratory technicians who handled the letter tested positive for exposure to anthrax and are being treated and a second NBC employee who also came in contact with the letter is being treated as a precautionary measure.
A senior federal health official told ABCNEWS the strain on anthrax found in Florida is the so-called Ames strain — one that was originally cultivated in Iowa, but used in research laboratories around the world.
Leading authorities on biological warfare say that discovery strongly suggests professional involvement because the strain is known to be resistant to vaccines.
The presence of anthrax was discovered in two field tests on a letter sent to a Microsoft office in Reno, Nev. late last week. But tests today by the Centers for Disease Control revealed the letter did not contain anthrax and that the initial detection was a false positive. Local health department officials confirmed today that all six people believed to have come into contact with the letter — which was postmarked in Malaysia — have tested negative for anthrax.
Amid the nationwide anthrax scare reports, Planned Parenthood Federation of America said its offices and health centers in Washington, D.C. and in at least 12 other states had received suspicious letters and threats. The abortion rights group said there were no reported injuries and law enforcement officials were conducting tests letters that contained an unidentified powdery white substance. So far initial test results on a letter and substance sent to offices in Greensboro, N.C. came back negative for anthrax.
• 'Possible Link' to Bin Laden, Says Bush
Bush said today there was no evidence to tie any of the anthrax cases to Osama bin Laden, but that there is a chance the incidents may be connected to his al Qaeda terrorist network.