Second Anthrax case detected in Florida...
October 8, 2001 3:54 AM   Subscribe

Second Anthrax case detected in Florida... In the past 100 years, 20 cases of Anthrax have been reported--with two of them in the past week, in Florida. CNN is reporting health officials have found Anthrax within the office building where the two men worked.
posted by Swifty (29 comments total)
Ok, this is getting kind of disturbing now. BTW, Nice post Swifty.
posted by revbrian at 4:16 AM on October 8, 2001

less distrubing than it would be if it was NOT a co-worker.
posted by brucec at 5:02 AM on October 8, 2001

Robert Stevens, a photographer for a newspaper with offices in that building, died Friday of inhalation anthrax.

What CNN doesn't say, and I think it's relevant, is that the newspaper he worked for is the supermarket tabloid called The Globe. Maybe they investigated something they shouldn't have?
posted by crunchland at 5:06 AM on October 8, 2001

I'm dead.
posted by dong_resin at 5:15 AM on October 8, 2001

Got cipro?
posted by xowie at 5:27 AM on October 8, 2001

A few little tidbits that make this easier to not panic about:

2nd case guy was not diagnosed w/ Anthrax, they just found the bacterial in a nasal swap, which meant he'd been exposed. He was not exhibiting symptoms.

Apparently you need to get dosed w/ thousands of spores (10k is what I heard) to get infected.

Anthrax is not infectious (see the CDC link), so a release in a city wouldn't necessarily endanger the whole nation.

It can be prevented by a course of antibiotics (not sure of the effectiveness).

When I first heard there was a 2nd case, I immediately assumed I'd be waking up to another unbelievable headline. (Thus, me being awake now. ugh.). But it helps me to think about it this way -- A guy walked in with Anthrax. So the epidemiologist went looking for it. Ok, they found it, not a major surprise (they're good). Maybe it's terrorists releasing it, maybe not. Either way, epidemiologists have identified a source, potentially effected folks, and are working on getting them treated...
posted by daver at 5:27 AM on October 8, 2001

Sorry, I should re-phrase. You can become infected with anthrax, obviously, but it doesn't spread easily from person to person.
posted by daver at 5:33 AM on October 8, 2001

Dammit, daver, I wanted to panic. ;-)

The article metions what you "heard":
Studies of previous cases indicate that a dose of 2,500 to 55,000 anthrax spores is lethal to about half of the people who inhale them
posted by Qubit at 5:35 AM on October 8, 2001

It's the Sun, not the Globe. The whole building has been shut down. There may not be a reason to panic, but now is certainly the time to get some antibiotics, surgical masks and gloves for your medicine cabinet, especially if you have children. No matter what the newspaper tells you.
posted by xowie at 5:49 AM on October 8, 2001

How do you get prescription antibiotics from a physician when you're currently asymptomatic??
posted by yesster at 5:57 AM on October 8, 2001

FBI urgently investigating. yesster: Call your doctor and ask.
posted by xowie at 6:08 AM on October 8, 2001

Some doctors in NYC are refusing to prescribe Cipro, saying it's just panic, and that the city is prepared. However, it seems that the doctors that are prescribing Cipro are prescribing it by the bushel, because pharmacies are ordering and selling out of many times the amount they would normally go through. Me, I'm calling my cousin who is a nurse.
posted by jennyjenny at 6:15 AM on October 8, 2001

The Sun, along with The Globe, The Weekly World News, The National Examiner, and yes...The National Enquirer, are all owned by the same company.

American Media, Inc.

Food for thought.
posted by at 6:39 AM on October 8, 2001

Sun-Sentinel: Traces of anthrax found in supermarket tabloid headquarters.
posted by xowie at 6:42 AM on October 8, 2001

PS: My line of thinking being, if you wanted to incite mass fear in the hearts and minds of rank-and-file Americans better to do it than through the pages of America's most sensationalistic tabloid publications?
posted by at 6:43 AM on October 8, 2001

Quick, get Bat Boy to quarantine!
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 7:14 AM on October 8, 2001

The article sez that anthrax symptoms take 7-60 days to develop. Working backwards from the guy's death last week (which followed an illness of several days), I think the Weekly World News cover probably ante-dates the dude's exposure.
posted by Mid at 8:28 AM on October 8, 2001

Er, post-dates.
posted by Mid at 8:30 AM on October 8, 2001

What are you guys worrying about? Anthrax is a great band.


Okay, that was bad, but I felt someone had to bring them up.
posted by Snotty at 8:31 AM on October 8, 2001

I posted earlier, asking how a physician can prescribe an antibiotic for a non-symptomatic patient.

Granted, some medicines are prescribed in advance of their need -- epinephrine injectors for allergics, etc. But for the most part, a patient has to be symptomatic in order to get an indicated pharmaceutical.

"However, it seems that the doctors that are prescribing Cipro are prescribing it by the bushel, because pharmacies are ordering and selling out of many times the amount they would normally go through." If this is true, aren't the doctors being unethical??
posted by yesster at 9:17 AM on October 8, 2001

20 cases of the inhaled variation of anthrax have been reported in 100 years or whatever it is but as for anthrax overall, there have been far more cases.

"Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium B. anthracis. Human disease usually occurs through cutaneous exposure to infected animal tissue or products. Rarely, inhalation or ingestion of B. anthracis spores also leads to anthrax. In the United States during the early part of the 20th century, approximately 130 human cases occurred annually (1); two cutaneous infections have been reported since 1992."
posted by yupislyr at 9:26 AM on October 8, 2001

Also, I'm sure if you looked back through those 20 cases of Anthrax, you're going to find that they appeared in clusters of 1 or 2 at about the same time. Isn't that how infectious disease outbreaks work?
posted by Hildago at 9:41 AM on October 8, 2001

I told 'em they shouldn't have let those sheep into the building...
posted by alumshubby at 10:36 AM on October 8, 2001

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Uh-oh.
posted by Soliloquy at 11:10 AM on October 8, 2001

FBI Probes Anthrax, Terror Link

Associated Press Writer
AP/Steve Mitchell

"BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — The FBI is investigating the possibility that the anthrax bacteria detected in two Florida men is a result of terrorism or criminal action, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday. "

Guess its official?
posted by Voyageman at 11:36 AM on October 8, 2001

yesster: It's not ethical and possibly unlawful. Panic drug hoarding in one location could prevent sufficient supplies from reaching an area where there is an actual outbreak. Nevertheless, I would not continue to see any doctor that refused to prescribe antibiotics if asked. (I guess you could call the doctor and say you think have a bacterial infection that requires Cipro or Doxy; that would more or less leave the ethical issue in your hands.)

The overwhelming likelihood is that the the vector in the American Media building was a terrorist experiment using genetically unmodified (home-brewed) anthrax. This means (a) that Cipro can help you, if you have it when you need it, and (b) if you live or work in a big city, you might be needing it soon.
posted by xowie at 12:24 PM on October 8, 2001

Thanks for the reply, xowie.

If there are any actual MD's here on MF, I'd like their views on providing prescription antibiotics to asymptomatic patients.

Good way to disperse anthrax: put it in those air-freshener thingies (frequently in public places) that squirt a mist into the air at some interval. Why a good method?

People are somewhat used to seeing the dispenser things, and most of us have occasionally heard them do their "pfffft" thing. If the spores have to be inhaled to be lethal, then it is a good delivery system by being atomized. These things are usually located high up on a wall. Since it isn't going full-time it will be harder to detect. It will seemingly strike randomly, also making detection hard. Assuming a long incubation period, it can infect lots of people before the first case is discovered.

By the way, though I am not a mycologist, 50,000 bacteria spores could easily be contained in a single water droplet (i.e., less than 0.1 cc).
posted by yesster at 12:49 PM on October 8, 2001

yesster: If there are any actual MD's here on MF, I'd like their views on providing prescription antibiotics to asymptomatic patients.

I am not an MD, however:

The concept you are referring to is the use of antibiotics as a prophylaxis. Prophylactic antibiotic treatment is well established, whether a person is symptomatic or not, based solely on the likelihood of becoming infected. However, the likelihood of infection is certainly the important part--if doctor prescribes me antibiotics here in Texas because I'm worried about the Anthrax outbreak in Florida, then that's definitely a problem.

Indeed, specifically with Anthrax, prophylactic antibiotic treatment in a potentially affected area is highly indicated--especially considering that once symptoms develop with pulmonary Anthrax, the likelihood of the antibiotics curing you is greatly reduced.

Here's a nice story on a potential case history for an Anthrax attack.
posted by Swifty at 4:47 PM on October 8, 2001

Swifty: That was a great answer and I agree. I think you got it right. Especially since most of the papers are British.

More than 300 employees of the National Enquirer, the Star, the Globe, the Sun and the Weekly World News who work for AMI are being asked to go to the health department offices in Delray Beach for antibiotics and further testing. On Monday, Florida Health Secretary John Agwunobi urged any employees or visitors "who have spent more than an hour'' in the AMI building, 5401 NW Broken Sound Blvd., since Aug. 1, to go to the Delray Beach Health center. - Miami Herald.
posted by xowie at 6:10 PM on October 8, 2001

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