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Notice to Readers: Ongoing Investigation of Anthrax --- Florida, October 2001

On October 4, 2001, the Palm Beach County Health Department (PBCHD), the Florida State Department of Health (FSDOH), and CDC reported a case of anthrax in a 63-year-old resident of Florida. The patient was hospitalized with the respiratory form of anthrax and subsequently died. PBCHD, FSDOH, and CDC initiated an epidemiologic investigation and public health surveillance to identify how infection with Bacillus anthracis occurred and to identify other infections. An environmental investigation identified one sample taken from the patient's workplace (America Media Inc. [AMI], Boca Raton, Florida) as positive for anthrax. B. anthracis also was identified in one nasal sample from another worker in the same building, which suggests exposure. Testing of additional samples is in progress. Public health officials, in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are continuing the investigation.

In response to these cases, PBCHD is evaluating and offering prophylactic antibiotic treatment to persons who might have been in the building for at least 1 hour since August 1. The incubation period from exposure to onset of illness is usually 1--7 days but may be up to 60 days. Symptoms of inhalational anthrax include fever, muscle aches, and fatigue that rapidly progress to severe systemic illness. Workers and visitors associated with the AMI worksite in Florida who develop such symptoms should be evaluated thoroughly to exclude anthrax. Clinicians who evaluate persons with exposure to anthrax should contact their state or local health department to provide information that may assist this investigation. This information was current as of October 10, 2001. Additional information about the Florida investigation, prophylactic antibiotic treatment guidelines, and anthrax is available from CDC at <http://www.bt.cdc.gov>. Public health guidance about the management of anthrax threat letters or packages can be found at <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr>.



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