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Who was the anthrax killer?
Six days after the 9/11 attacks, a new terror began to spread...
September 17, 2001: A Florida tabloid receives a love letter addressed to Jennifer Lopez. The paper's photo editor opens it--and, unknowingly, inhales thousands of toxic spores. By 10/5 he's dead.
October 12, 2001: NBC anchor Tom Brokaw's assistant tests positive for cutaneous anthrax, a result of exposure to a powder in an envelope she inhaled three weeks before.
In the days that followed, 28 more people tested positive for anthrax, plunging an entire country into the frontlines of an insidious bioterror.
The anthrax war had begun.
This is the most comprehensive work to date about the plague of terror that arose in the wake of 9/11--and the relentless scientific manhunt to answer the question of who the anthrax killer was.
vaccines. The two men took Cipro then conducted nose swab tests on themselves. After both technicians tested positive, they were too traumatized to continue work. The lab was sealed until cleanup could be accomplished and this delayed analysis of the second Brokaw letter. However, so few spores remained in the envelope after the sandy powder was spilled that the FBI asked the Army to delay any analysis. What remained was heavily adulter- 64 ROBERT GRAYSMITH ated with “vegetative cells,” which
ticked them off: an NBC letter addressed to Tom Brokaw, an ABC letter addressed to Peter Jennings, and a CBS letter to Dan Rather. When Rather’s twenty-seven-year-old assistant Claire Fletcher contracted cutaneous anthrax, he was heartbreakingly distraught on the David Letterman Show. He AMERITHRAX 73 collapsed in Letterman’s arms, the stress of 9-11 and the recent attack at his office weighing heavily on his shoulders. One bad break for the investigators was that all the anthraxlaced letters
areas in his lower right lung hemorrhaged, bled into the middle of his chest, then slowly became solid. The poison moved like a marching army through his organs, causing bleeding and deterioration as it went. Stevens, feeling none of this, returned to his Palm Beach County home, a cozy nest surrounded by the swamps of the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge. On Saturday he went fishing, probably at Boynton Beach Inlet. Afterward, he and his wife, Maureen, fine-tuned their vacation plans—a visit to their
aches, nausea, feeling of oncoming illness, drenching sweats, and discomfort from bright light. He had a mild, dry cough, a feeling of fullness in his chest upon exertion, and pain on the surface of his lungs. Meanwhile, his coworker Leroy Richmond, a Stafford, Virginia, resident, was experiencing the same familiar symptoms— including fever and chills. He was hot and achy, short of breath, and stoically taking aspirin to endure the discomfort. The thirty-two-year USPS veteran worked in a cubicle
tissuedestroying toxins to other organs via the bloodstream. Antibiotics can kill or halt bacterial growth. But the unknown bacteria had produced a toxin that rapidly blocked the blood and lymph systems, sending Stevens into shock. Doctors now treated him with the antibiotics levofloxacin, clindamycin, and penicillin G. Penicillin is used to treat most gram-positive bacterial infections, but the doctors were not hopeful. If the infection was systemic, its treatment was problematic. When the