October 8, 2001 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Anthrax case becomes criminal investigation as Law Enforcement intensifies its searche for a Summer Intern who worked in the office.

He is said to be from the Middle East. Hopefully unrelated, but evidence is mounting... i.e. - employees received a strange letter before the WTC attack containing a white powdery substance and a "Cheap" Star of David charm...
posted by da5id (24 comments total)
Not to mention Atta was operating in Florida. Coincidence? I think not. However, it will take over a month for symptoms to appear in most people... so who knows how many people have been infected in Florida (or other places in the country) right now.
posted by Aikido at 7:53 PM on October 8, 2001

ow! i pricked my finger.

i wonder what nationality this STICKPIN IS!@@!@#$
posted by jcterminal at 7:54 PM on October 8, 2001

why the tabloids though? At least the weekly world news is safe...
posted by atom128 at 7:59 PM on October 8, 2001

why the tabloids though? At least the weekly world news is safe...

Well, other than USA Today, the tabloids are the most well-known publications that are national. You can argue the Wall Street Journal or the NY Times have more of a national audience, but tabloids reach more people and more demographics.

So now when people are in line at the supermarket and they see the tabloids published by the company affected, the instantaneously make the link between that and Anthrax... And BOOM, terror is born.

Not saying the newspapers themselves would have Anthrax, but the news of this infection will spread pretty fast throughout the population. Even among those who are avoiding news and are simply at the supermarket buying beer and chips...
posted by RoyalJack at 8:05 PM on October 8, 2001

Aikido, my sources say symptoms generally appear within 48 hours to seven days. While there is no way we can rule out an al Qaeda connection at this sketchy point, it's unlikely that Atta was personally responsible for this. There's just too much time lag, and we're pretty sure he's been dead in the interval.

I feel pretty confident that there's no widespread anthrax infection, but this could easily have been part of a FUD campaign designed to follow the 911 attack. What's most disturbing is that this is the first successful bioterrorism; it may have served as a proof of concept, it indicates that somebody has access to a source of contaminants, and it would be very easy to assume they have access to more. At the same time, just like WTC, this has raised the bar of what other nutballs will think is possible to pull off.
posted by dhartung at 8:08 PM on October 8, 2001

Wonder what this will do to real estate prices in that neighborhood?:
posted by daragh at 8:12 PM on October 8, 2001

Hmmm dhat, actually the lag time seems about right. Although symptoms usually appear within 7 days, it can take as long as 60 days for the bacteria to reproduce and create symptoms. The man who initially died from Anthrax died because he did not see a doctor soon enough. There's the possibility he was infected a month ago, since his case was a fatal one.

I doubt Atta himself did it, but the likeliness the perpetrator is connected to Atta is quite high IMO.
posted by Aikido at 8:20 PM on October 8, 2001

I pay a LOT of taxes.

Our current administration is of a political persuasion which claims to believe that our government's primary role is defending and protecting the country.

Where is my goddamn anthrax vaccine?
posted by glenwood at 8:27 PM on October 8, 2001

I'd personally be more afraid of smallpox because of its fast rate of infection through the general population.

Where is my goddamn anthrax vaccine? And why the hell were they stupid enough to stop the vaccinations in the first place?
posted by Aikido at 8:37 PM on October 8, 2001

Er anthrax=smallpox....
posted by Aikido at 8:38 PM on October 8, 2001

There isn't enough anthrax vaccine for the military right now, much less the populace. Even so, it's non-contagious, so if you aren't one of the unlucky bastards to be exposed to it during an attack you won't get it. The bioterrorism agent to be paranoid about is smallpox.
posted by rcade at 8:41 PM on October 8, 2001

Anybody else here consider that Florida is brother Jeb Bush's turf?
posted by PeterOA at 9:01 PM on October 8, 2001

Some useful information on Airborne Anthrax:
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention - Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response; American Medican Association - Disaster Preparedness and Medical Response; Officials: Tests Show Presence Of Anthrax In Second Florida Man And At Newspaper Building (via the AP); JAMA Consensus Statement: Anthrax as a Biological Weapon Medical and Public Health Management (from May 1999, it's excellent and runs down the issues); AMA Statement to Physicians on Anthrax; Further articles from JAMA.

Personal comment: This makes me wonder if my skills as a Respiratory Therapist will be needed in the event of a mass casualty situation. I think though, that aerosol deposition is hard to do and hard to get right. One of the things RTs do is administer medicine in aerosol form. From that I know that to get deposition of drug in the lungs particles in an airborne form it must be carried in aerosol particles of just the right size. I'm not trying to minimize the threat (my sudden, intense need to research this certainly puts me in the "scared witless" category) but I will say that the threat is not on a mass scale, but rather in small outbreaks in small places. Of course, the prediction game is a dodgy one just now. Anyway, read the articles and make your local health care agencies aware of the CDC and JAMA statements.
posted by artlung at 9:22 PM on October 8, 2001

Wanting an anthrax vaccine is, for most people, a little more logical than wanting a tin foil hat to protect us from the space rays. I dunno, I can't see Anthrax being used on a large enough scale to warrant it. It would be easier and more effective for terrorists to just shoot people with a regular old gun.
posted by Doug at 9:42 PM on October 8, 2001

Isn't anthrax vaccine the one that all the Gulf War veterans are claiming destroyed their health? I don't think you'd want one even if it was available.
posted by aaron at 9:55 PM on October 8, 2001

It would be easier and more effective for terrorists to just shoot people with a regular old gun.

It might be easier, but it wouldn't be more effective. They are TERRORISTS and they are trying to create fear in the American population. They are succeeding.
posted by rglasmann at 10:12 PM on October 8, 2001

Where is my anthrax vaccine?

It's here in Lansing.
posted by iceberg273 at 10:17 PM on October 8, 2001

The bioterrorism agent to be *really, really* worried about is clostridium botulinum toxin. Drop a cup of that in the NYC water supply and half the city is dead before anyone knows it's there.
posted by darukaru at 10:26 PM on October 8, 2001

Where's my anthrax vaccine?

Answer #2: If you've already been exposed to inhalational anthrax, you'll probably be put on a 60-day regimen of 1-cyclopropyl-6-fluoro-1, 4-drhydro-4-oxo-7-(1-piperazinyl)-3-quinolinecarboxylic acid. Yummy.
posted by iceberg273 at 10:28 PM on October 8, 2001

So, anyone else notice that the newspaper ("Sun") office--where these alledgedly these infections occurred--says "American Media" in big letters on the outside?

Step 1: Test bio contamination, smallscale, on something that trumpets itself as "American Media"...

posted by Kato at 12:24 AM on October 9, 2001

dhartung, the first successful bioterrorism in the US was in 1984 in Oregon using salmonella by the Rajneeshi cult.
posted by mutagen at 5:33 AM on October 9, 2001

Mutagen's right. See this Columbia Journalism Review article on how the Rajneeshees wanted to try to win a local election by making people too sick to go to the polls.

First, the Rajneeshees poisoned two visiting Wasco County commissioners on a hot day by plying them with refreshing drinks of cold water laced with salmonella. Then, on a shopping trip to The Dalles, cult members sprinkled salmonella on produce in grocery stores "just for fun." According to reporter Zaitz, that experiment didn't get the results they wanted so the Rajneeshees proceeded to clandestinely sprinkle salmonella at the town's restaurant salad bars. Ten restaurants were hit and more than 700 people got sick.
posted by agaffin at 9:11 AM on October 9, 2001


> I think though, that aerosol deposition is hard to do and
> hard to get right.

Art, check out this New Yorker article and search for "aerosol-particle technology". Not comforting...

(Yes, I know I posted this same link in another thread. But it seems to be widely relevant.)
posted by jfuller at 11:22 AM on October 9, 2001

The student intern has been cleared; he had nothing to do with it. The "surprise" he left was bagels and cream cheese.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:12 PM on October 9, 2001

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