Skip to comments.Anthrax Found in Lawmakers' Offices
Posted on 10/26/2001 9:22:00 PM PDT by Asmodeus
Friday October 26 11:30 PM ET
Anthrax Found in Lawmakers' Offices
By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Trace amounts of anthrax were discovered Friday in the offices of three congressman in a House office building as evidence of bioterrorism continued to spread on Capitol Hill.
The spores were found in the offices of Reps. John E. Baldacci, D-Maine; Rush Holt, D-N.J., and Mike Pence, R-Ind., on the sixth and seventh floors of the Longworth House Office Building, said Capitol Police Lt. Dan Nichols.
Dr. John Eisold, the Capitol physician, described spores found in the three offices as trace amounts. ``We are not concerned about a significant health risk,'' he said.
The building, housing dozens of lawmakers' offices, has been closed since Oct. 18 and mail deliveries throughout the Capitol complex have been halted since before then.
Holt's and Pence's offices are on the sixth floor of the building and Baldacci's is on the seventh floor.
Baldacci, reached at his home in Bangor, Maine, said he was told by Eisold that the anthrax in his office was not as potent as that found in Daschle's. He said his staff was putting together a list of all who had been in his office, including visitors and interns. It was unclear whether they would have to take antibiotics as a precaution, he said.
The Longworth discoveries were the first in the offices of lawmakers since Oct. 15, when anthrax on Capitol Hill was first found in a letter postmarked from New Jersey and opened that morning in an office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in the Hart Senate Office Building.
On Thursday, officials disclosed the discovery of spores at two other locations in the Hart building, a stairway between its eighth and ninth floors and ninth-floor ventilation filter. On Wednesday, trace amounts of spores also were found in a freight elevator in the Hart building.
Nichols said the spores found the three congressmen's offices also ``are trace samples much like the ones we found in the elevators of the Hart Senate Office Building.''
Eisold said officials were trying to contact aides to the three lawmakers and other people who were in the Longworth building last week before it closed. He said antibiotics, Cipro or doxycycline, would be made available to them.
The Longworth building receives mail that is processed by a machine where anthrax was found last week. The machine is located in a separate House office building several blocks away.
The positive tests turned up as Congress struggled to recover from a bioterrorism scare that has gripped it for nearly two weeks now. Impatient lawmakers have been clamoring for faster cleanup so they can return to their shuttered offices.
Workers returned to the Senate's Dirksen building Friday, the fourth of Congress' six major office buildings to reopen since Oct. 17. The Longworth and Hart buildings were the only ones still closed Friday on Friday and will maintain that status until at least next week.
The quadrant where Daschle's suite is located, which houses a dozen senators' offices that share ventilation, could stay shut for much longer as the potentially fatal bacteria is cleaned up.
While more than a dozen buildings on Capitol Hill were being checked for anthrax spores, lawmakers and their staff have been working in temporary office spaces, Capitol cloakrooms, cafeterias or other make-do spots.
``Everybody wants everything open immediately,'' said Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., describing his colleagues' moods.
One option, said Daschle, is to seal off the contaminated Hart quadrant for a lengthy period so the building's other 38 offices could reopen while the decontamination proceeds.
Anthrax was found were in a staircase between the Hart building's eighth and ninth floors and in a ninth-floor ventilation filter. On the day the letter was opened Daschle's staff was brought up that staircase to a conference room, where they were checked by doctors, said Nichols, the police spokesman.
Unclear is whether the anthrax in the ventilation system came from the Daschle aides or traveled up the air shaft, also located in the same quadrant as Daschle's office, Nichols said.
The two contaminated areas will be cleaned up. Officials don't think additional people will need to be treated for possible anthrax exposure, because those who were in the contaminated staircase have already been identified and tested, Nichols said.
Officials said an unknown number of people who rode in a contaminated freight elevator in the Hart building last week will have to receive antibiotics. Traces of anthrax were discovered on Wednesday around that elevator on the building's first floor.
Twenty-eight people who work in the Capitol complex have tested positive for anthrax exposure. More than 6,000 people have been tested for exposure and more than 400 are on 60-day prescriptions of antibiotics.
Thank you so much for bailing on the Republicans and allowing me to give up my Majority Leader status. I generally open my own mail and their is no telling where I'd be now. Hugs & Kisses
LOL. Funny (Your old bosum buddy Trent.)
Light powders are the most effective way to distribute anthrax.
Anti friction lubricants will prevent the spores from dispersing.
That would depend on their gender and whether Barney was actually there or not.
If Barney's present there's no amount of antibiotics that will help them.
What do we know about these three to make them targets? That makes three Dems and a Pubbie.
1. Put in UV lights, and run them at intervals throughout the day. Add UV reflective coatings on many surfaces so that light can be reflected into corners under and around machines.
2. Require new mail equipment to be designed to be illuminated fully inside and easily cleaned, reducing the number of places that organisms can hide from cleaning agents or light.
3. Cycle the humidity in the building to 100% a few times a day, so that spores will germinate and become vulnerable.
4. Put electrostatic air filters at many places in the facilities.
5. Add air-containment shrouds to equipment so that air surrounding the mail is captured and run across electrostatic filters.
Allow and encourage postal customers to opt out of 2nd- and lower class mail. This would reduce the amount of paper being delivered.
It dawned on the FBI today that might be a good idea:
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