5 more Anthrax cases in Fla.
October 13, 2001 5:27 PM   Subscribe

5 more Anthrax cases in Fla. Five more people in South Florida have been found to be exposed to anthrax, according to officials of American Media, the company where three other people had been exposed to the disease. • Anthrax Test Positive in Nevada. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced today that a second letter sent from Trenton, N.J., contained the anthrax that infected an NBC employee
posted by semmi (21 comments total)
What if it isn't bin Laden doing this? What if it's some psycho like Tim McVeigh sending the anthrax to people to capitalise on the terror. I have a strange feeling that muslim radicals like bin Laden don't act any subtler than sending two Boeings into a skyscraper.
posted by timyang at 5:56 PM on October 13, 2001

That's what I've been thinking, timyang. Did you hear that the letter received in Nevada included, along with the bacteria, pornographic pictures. Bizarre, and not exactly typical of Bid Laden.

Maybe Unibomber-like madman, here in the US, saw 9/11 as the beginning of Armageddon--his calling to start sending all those letters he'd been preparing all those years.
posted by jpoulos at 6:09 PM on October 13, 2001

I usually don't like to blame the media for reporting stuff, but they're overdoing it with this anthrax. All day news networks have had experts and ditzy reporters in different interviews.

Reporter: "Should I buy gas masks, build concrete bunkers and stock pile antibiotics?"
Expert: "Uh, no."
Reporter: "Can you tell us anything comforting?"
Expert: "Well you have a better chance that you'll die in a car crash today"

This goes on for about 15 minutes, at which point they report on someone, somewhere getting a letter with a "white powder". I'm sure there are countless crackpots out there sending baking soda to just about anyone.
posted by geoff. at 6:19 PM on October 13, 2001

That's right Geoff. The media deluge is coming.
posted by catatonic at 6:30 PM on October 13, 2001

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Anthrax (according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison). Seven highlighted reassurances at the top, then a scholarly article about Bacillis anthracis.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:35 PM on October 13, 2001

The letter to Microsoft was apparently post marked Malaysia.
posted by bjgeiger at 6:38 PM on October 13, 2001

So, didn't they start putting seals on even bleach after the Tylenol poisoning cases? And didn't that turn out to be one person murdering a spouse with an alternate sort-of-Munchausen-be-proxy twist? I mean, if an average person with an average imagination wanted to put a scare in people, the possibilities are endless, starting with Safeway. Personally, I don't subscribe to the evil genius theory.

So, I just can't figure out what's really going on here and God forbid, TV news is going to take this ball and run with it. If this is terrorism or a nutball Unabomber by other means, then the hysteria is going to out strip the danger by astronomical proportions.

But with a 56K setup, I'm going to research this later...I gotta go get a life here...S'later.
posted by y2karl at 6:47 PM on October 13, 2001

The letter to Microsoft was apparently post marked Malaysia.

I'm not sure that's entirely clear. My understanding is the the Microsoft Office in Nevada sent a check to a contractor in Malaysia, and the envelope, including the check, the pr0n and the anthrax, was returned to the Nevada office. It may never have made it out of the country.
posted by jpoulos at 7:28 PM on October 13, 2001

This is someone with a media grudge taking advantage of the chance to create panic. Probably had the plan in his head for awhile and realized the timing just couldn't be better. If terrorists were going to use anthrax they'd do it in a way that affected hundreds or thousands at once, not just the few people who came into contact with a letter.

My speculation, anyway.

Speaking of media hysteria: last night's local news ran an interview with a science expert. The reporter asked, "Bottom line, is it time for the American public to panic?" I wanted so much for the man to just go with it: "Absolutely, Kent! It's time for viewers to crack each other's heads open and eat the goo inside!"
posted by Dean King at 7:38 PM on October 13, 2001

people are freaking out... go for a walk with the kids or your loved ones, put down the computer, and turn off CNN.
posted by machaus at 7:38 PM on October 13, 2001

The postmarks don't necessarily mean a thing. There are remailing services as well as the ability to just mail something to your militant friend in country X who puts it in a new envelope and mails it to location Y.
posted by xyzzy at 8:45 PM on October 13, 2001

Yes, I'm sure we're all going to be fine.

On a sperate note, any overseas readers wanna trade houses for little while? Nice South Fla. address, right on the ocean, with an abundance of Denny's and IHOPs..... the old lady upstairs who usually sounds like a bowling alley has been really, really quiet since last tuesday..... cough.... `scuse me....
posted by dong_resin at 9:05 PM on October 13, 2001

Carol Anne's article points it out nicely, but here's a breakdown.

Your chances of getting exposed are slim.
If you get exposed, the chances that you'd get infected are slim. (Eat it, rub it on broken skin, inhale it).
If you get exposed, your chances of contracting it are slim (must inhale 2-10k spores to contract inhaled anthrax).
If you got exposed, chances are you knew it.
If you knew it, chances are you'd get treatment.
If you were exposed to the most lethal (and hard to deliver) form, and then you got promptly treated, chances are you'd live, and probably not even suffer while being treated. If you got a less lethal form, chances are you'd live even if you didn't get treatment.

The odds are in our favor. Don't freak out.

Remember: exposed isn't the same as contracted. There's a significant barrier between the two. Even the folks who had anthrax in their noses may ultimately not have contracted it.
posted by daver at 9:27 PM on October 13, 2001

Uh... pleeze excuse the redundency about infected and contracted.
posted by daver at 9:28 PM on October 13, 2001

Here's something everyone seems to be ignoring about the anthrax scare (certainly the media is.) This is not a serious bioterror attack, and it's doubtful that it's a precursor to one. You can still count the number of infected people using ten fingers, last I checked.

Also, if I were planning to launch a serious bioterror assault, would I start it this way, and give everyone advance warning?

I happen to angree with timyang
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:49 PM on October 13, 2001

but haven't the al-Qaeda terrorists been known to test out their scenarios before launching attacks? everyone knows that anthrax is not a real threat, but wouldn't targeting the media with anthrax be the best way to find out how a real bio-attack be treated? so shouldn't we be freaking out about smallpox about now?

i'm the last person to be alarmist, but i, personally, am scared.

i hope that i'm freaking about nothing.
posted by palegirl at 9:59 PM on October 13, 2001

I'm not getting this, I guess. Why is everybody so bent out of shape by anthrax when we're all so much more likely to die of traffic accidents?

machaus: Thanks for your link! So far this month, that article takes the [bad writing] cake. (Way back in the dark ages, a friend of mine told me, "You can learn more from bad writing than you can from good." Yup, she was right.) I'm saving this article because every line in it tells me what I should NOT do when I write...but then I never wanted to be *stupid! stupid! stupid!* in print.
posted by realjanetkagan at 9:59 PM on October 13, 2001

Is it possible that there are more anthrax cases than are being reported? Would most doctors/coroners even know what to look for? (I suppose there are enough confirmed things to be concerned about without inventing new ones -- still, I've got to wonder).
posted by RavinDave at 12:01 AM on October 14, 2001

Fortunately, I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:35 AM on October 14, 2001

i love you, kirkaracha.
posted by lescour at 7:18 AM on October 14, 2001

Sandia Labs has developed a Foam that neutralizes both biological and chemical agents and it's commercially available. As a precautionary measure I think we should foam the whole country now. Plus it would be alot more fun than taking Cipro.

posted by obedo at 12:42 PM on October 14, 2001

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