Letter to Microsoft office in Nevada tests negative for anthrax, governor says | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Letter to Microsoft office in Nevada tests negative for anthrax, governor says


CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Final tests on a letter in a Microsoft office in Reno have come back negative for anthrax, Gov. Kenny Guinn announced Thursday.

Tests performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the presence of a bacterium, but ruled out that it was anthrax.

”I’m very relieved even though it has taken a number of days,” Guinn said in releasing the CDC results. Microsoft Licensing Inc. officials had first contacted state health officials Oct. 10.

”The important thing is, we got the results back that we were looking for.”

The tests performed by the CDC were requested after state Health Division tests showed anthrax had contaminated a pornographic picture in a letter at the Microsoft Licensing Inc. office in Reno.

The CDC’s initial analysis was negative, and a second sample underwent DNA testing that conclusively found the material was not anthrax.

The governor said the state publicized the incident before testing was complete because it was important to keep people informed.

”I would do the very same thing tomorrow morning,” he said.

Washoe County Health District Officer Barbara Hunt said she sees no need for further testing of the five Microsoft employees and one family member who were exposed to the letter. All tested negative earlier.

Microsoft spokesman Dan Leach said the company is relieved by the test results, and he thanked Guinn and health officials for their work.

”They were wonderful at keeping us informed,” Leach said Thursday evening.

Dee Brown, who runs the state lab that did the initial testing, said the CDC will still try to identify the bacteria, but its interest is ”more academic,” rather than stemming from a fear that it’s a health hazard.

Microsoft contacted health officials after an employee became suspicious about a returned envelope, mailed earlier to a vendor in Malaysia. Pornographic pictures had been inserted into the envelope, which also contained a check made out to the vendor, who wasn’t identified.

The Malaysian government, which along with the FBI began an investigation, says it is not clear where the contamination originated.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Jamil Johari was quoted in the New Straits Times newspaper as saying that the letter from Microsoft in Reno was returned to the sender after the addressee in Malaysia could not be contacted.

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