- VILNIUS (Reuters) - Anthrax
has been found in mail sent to the United States embassy in the Lithuanian
capital Vilnius, Lithuanian health officials said on Thursday.
- It was the second U.S. diplomatic mission, after Peru,
to find the deadly bacteria in mail sent from the State Department in
where anthrax has been found in two mailrooms amid a nationwide scare over
the disease which has killed four people.
- "Following tests, we can say with a 95, maybe even
98 percent certainty, that we found anthrax in at least in one of the five
mailbags," Kazimiera Rutiene, head of the microbiology laboratory
of the Vilnius public health center, told Reuters.
- Rutiene said the laboratory used for testing the mail,
and the mailbags holding it, had been disinfected and laboratory staff
who carried out the tests had been given antibiotics.
- The U.S. embassy confirmed the information and said it
had already taken precautionary measures.
- "We have taken precautions, our mailroom has already
been sealed, every employee in the embassy has been offered antibiotics
and we are waiting for further instructions from the State Department about
cleaning and decontamination procedures," embassy public affairs
Michael Boyle told Reuters.
- Boyle said no one in the embassy had been diagnosed with
anthrax, and the employees who routinely handled the mail would take a
course of antibiotics for about a week.
- "At this point we intend to have the embassy open,
having taken the precaution of sealing the mailroom, but we are in
with the State Department in Washington and will follow their
- The embassy said on Wednesday it had sealed off its
on suspicion that two mailbags it had received could contain the deadly
- Local officials said they were working to identify other
individuals who might have been in contact with the mailbags.
- "We will also have to check the premises (of the
embassy) where those mailbags were as well as their transport," said
Vytautas Bakasenas, deputy director of the Infectious Disease Control
- "We started testing those mailbags because the U.S.
embassy employees found out that those mail deliveries may have come from
the same post offices in the United States where anthrax was found,"
- The State Department is one of many federal agencies
in Washington affected by the anthrax scare.
- The latest person to die of inhaled anthrax in the United
States was a New York hospital worker who died on Wednesday.
- Authorities said they were mystified by her death as
they had no idea how she encountered the disease. All three previous deaths
were due to letters laced with the powdery anthrax spores.
- A total of 16 cases of anthrax, six of them the less
dangerous skin anthrax, have been confirmed in the United States and most
were caused by spores sent through the mail.
- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft told a news
on Wednesday that investigators were working hard to find the source of
the anthrax but were no closer to cracking the case.
Site Served by TheHostPros