New Jersey firefighter who collected mail tests positive for anthrax

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The Independent US

More than 35 firefighters were given antibiotics for possible anthrax yesterday after one of them fell ill with respiratory problems.

More than 35 firefighters were given antibiotics for possible anthrax yesterday after one of them fell ill with respiratory problems.

The firefighters are from the New Jersey town of Trenton, which is at the centre of much of the investigation into the anthrax-infected letters. At least three of the letters were sent from Trenton and five local postal workers are being treated for the disease.

The firefighter who fell ill, a support staff member, used to collect mail from a main post office in the nearby Hamilton Township. Last night he was in good condition with a cough and a fever after a swab tested positive for anthrax exposure.

The Hamilton facility handled contaminated letters sent to Senator Tom Daschle, news anchor Tom Brokaw and the New York Post. Two Hamilton postal workers have developed respiratory ailments believed to be inhaled anthrax, the deadliest form of the disease that has killed three people in the United States.

The Bush administration has come under increasing pressure over its handling of the outbreak, particularly among postal workers who were not tested for nearly a week after the first anthrax letters were received.

The White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, said the authorities were taking further precautions in case more letters containing anthrax were "stuck in the system".

The Postal Service has signed a $40 million contract to buy eight electron-beam devices to sanitise letters.

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