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Postal Worker Was Diagnosed With Flu
By Stephen Manning
Associated Press Writer
Monday, Oct. 22, 2001; 7:26 p.m. EDT
CLINTON, Md. –– A Washington postal worker who apparently died of anthrax had been examined a day before his death by doctors who were unaware of where he worked and diagnosed him with the flu, officials said Monday.
The 47-year-old man, who was not identified, first went to the Southern Maryland Medical Center at 2 a.m. Sunday after fainting in church Saturday with flu-like symptoms.
The man, an employee at the Washington central postal facility that delivers mail to Congress, did not tell doctors where he worked during that visit, and they did not ask, officials said.
Blood tests and a chest X-ray revealed nothing that suggested anthrax at that time and he was sent home with a diagnosis of the flu, said Dr. Venkat Mani, head of the hospital's infectious diseases department.
"There was nothing indicative to have us suspect even on a heightened state that this gentlemen had something out of the ordinary," said Scott Kelso, head of the hospital's emergency room.
The man was rushed back to the hospital in an ambulance about 5:45 a.m. Monday, suffering from respiratory distress, low blood-pressure, a fast heart rate and flu-like symptoms, Mani said.
He was given high doses of antibiotics and put on a ventilator, but died six hours later. The cause of death was listed as preliminary pulmonary anthrax and septic shock, Mani said.
A blood culture smear showed bacteria suggestive of anthrax, but Mani cautioned that doctors won't be sure until the culture is completed Tuesday.
Hospital officials would not identify the man or where he worked, but officials in Washington said one of two postal workers who apparently died of anthrax was at Southern Maryland Medical Center.
Postal officials said the two worked at the Brentwood mail facility that likely handled the anthrax-laced letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
The second worker died Sunday at Greater Southeast Hospital in Washington. Officials would not identify the victim.
© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press
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