A New York City police officer and two laboratory technicians who handled a letter sent to NBC are being treated for exposure to anthrax spores.
The three handled the same letter that was found to have traces of anthrax and was addressed to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw. That letter is believed to be the one that caused Brokaw's assistant to test positive for cutaneous anthrax.
New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said all three new exposure cases are being treated with antibiotics. He said that based on the number of spores found in the three people they are not expected to face any complications.
"They are being treated," he said. "This does not mean they have anthrax."
Since the announcement Friday that Brokaw's assistant had anthrax, New York police have received more than 100 calls from panicked residents who feared they too might have been exposed.
"None of them have proven to be anything else but negative," Giuliani said.
Kenneth Cooper, an editor at the Boston Globe asked to be tested for anthrax two weeks after having received a threatening letter and after waking up on Saturday with flu symptoms, according to Reuters.
More Possible Florida Exposures
Anxiety about the disease has spread across the country, fanned by the announcement Saturday that five more employees of American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla., tested positive for possible exposure to anthrax. That brought the total number of exposure cases there to eight. One of the eight died after inhaling anthrax spores.
The five new Florida exposures were found after preliminary blood tests suggested exposure to anthrax. In New York, anthrax spores were found in the noses of the police officer and a lab technician and on the face of a second technician.
"It means they had an exposure," American Media spokesman Gerald McKelvey told The Associated Press. "It doesn't mean they have anthrax."
"They are all fine," American Media spokesman Gerald McKelvey said about the five employees. "They have been reporting to work. They are taking their medication."
None of the five were said to be sick or in the hospital. CDC officials would not confirm the exposures because testing was not complete. On Friday, the FBI said test results of 965 people who were in the building recently found no new infections.
Anthrax Found in Nevada
The presence of anthrax was found in a letter sent to a Microsoft Licensing office in Reno, Nevada. The letter was sent from Malaysia, where cells of Osama bin Laden's network are believed to operate, has tested positive for anthrax in two of three preliminary tests.
Four of the six people believed to have come into contact with the contaminated letter have tested negative in preliminary exams for inhalant, or airborne, anthrax. The other two people have not been cleared yet. Samples collected from them are being tested by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, said Barbara Hunt, an official with the Washoe, Nevada County Health Office, during a news conference.
The final results of the nasal swab tests won't be known until Monday, Hunt said. The six individuals are the only ones being monitored for possible exposure to anthrax, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn said.
"This is a very, very low risk to public health," Guinn said Saturday.
The Malaysian government pledged to bring "the full weight of the law" against anyone shown to be involved in the letter sent from Malaysia to the Microsoft office in Nevada.
Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told the Associated Press that Malaysian officials were "shocked and deeply disturbed" over the matter. Malaysia appealed to the FBI for all relevant information about the case.
Second Possible Exposure at NBC
On Saturday, authorities said a letter addressed to Brokaw and postmarked Sept. 18 in Trenton, N.J., contained a substance that tested positive for anthrax spores. Authorities believe that letter contained the anthrax that infected the NBC employee. Another letter postmarked Sept. 20 in St. Petersburg, Fla., was first believed to have been the infected letter but it has tested negative.
Erin O'Connor, Brokaw's personal assistant, contracted cutaneous, or "skin," anthrax — less dangerous than inhaled anthrax and rarely fatal if treated.
Because Trenton, N.J. is a major collection and dispersal point for mail in the region, it was not clear where the letter originated.
A second NBC News assistant who handled the Sept. 18 letter was tested Saturday for exposure. She was taking antibiotics and exhibited possible early symptoms of anthrax, including a low-grade fever, swollen lymph nodes and a rash.
Several floors of the NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center will remain closed for at least a few days as health officials test the building. So far, 358 employees have been tested along with other workers in the area.
Despite being the apparent target of the threat, Brokaw maintained a normal schedule and was seen Saturday shopping in a New York suburb. Several passersby wished him well and asked about his assistant.
"She'll be fine," Brokaw replied. "But this is no isolated incident."
Since Friday, reports of anthrax exposure or possibly contaminiated mail have cropped up elsewhere around the country — including at media outlets such as The New York Times, CBS News' Washington bureau and Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City, Calif. — but they were found to be false alarms.
President Bush referred to the infections and scares Saturday in his radio address to the nation.
"I understand that many Americans are feeling uneasy," he said. "But all Americans should be assured: We are taking strong precautions. We are vigilant, we are determined, the country is alert."
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said today the government is taking steps to be ready to respond to any health-related terrorist threat that might arise.
"We will be able to respond, but we can't take care of every contingency at this point in time," Thompson said today on ABCNEWS' This Week. "We are prepared for what we know is out there, and that's what we want to make sure the American public knows."