Nevada official await anthrax test results from CDC
CARSON CITY (AP) – State officials still were awaiting word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday for a determination of whether anthrax on a letter in Reno was potentially dangerous or a harmless vaccine strain.
Washoe County health officers said they remained confident that no one in Nevada had suffered any serious exposure even if the anthrax were the disease-causing variety.
The CDC will notify Dr. Randy Todd, the state epidemiologist, who will brief Gov. Kenny Guinn on the results, Guinn’s spokesman Greg Bortolin said. Bortolin said Todd had not heard from the CDC.
A press assistant at the CDC in Atlanta denied broadcast reports that the centers had completed the tests and reported results to Nevada. The assistant, who refused to provide her name, said the centers had not notified the state of any results.
John Flamm, public information officer for the Nevada Division of Health, confirmed state health officials had not been given any new information on the letter.
”The only person who can give out that information is the governor’s office. It is coming from the governor’s office only. The rest of us don’t have the information,” he said.
”The CDC would never put it out before telling us,” Flamm said. ”They would have someone’s job.”
CDC press officers were in a meeting Tuesday morning and not available to comment, the press assistant said.
But she said press officers had instructed her to tell The Associated Press in Reno that state officials have not received formal word from the CDC.
”Your state is correct. They haven’t gotten anything. We would not release any information to the media in reference to any state. We give it to them. They develop their own media release. We would not release anything.”
State officials announced on Monday that all six people exposed to anthrax in a letter at a Microsoft office in Nevada tested negative for the deadly, inhaled version of the disease.
The nasal swab tests for the final two people came back negative Monday, Washoe County District Health Officer Barbara Hunt said. The other four tested negative Sunday.
”The negative nasal swab tests, combined with the physical condition and location of the letter, indicate that this is a very, very low risk situation even if the CDC results indicate that the anthrax isolate did contain a disease-causing strain,” Hunt said.
”It is a great relief,” Hunt said.
Health officials will monitor the six people for the less dangerous form of anthrax, which can result in skin lesions but is highly treatable, she said.
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