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Fla. Man Hospitalized With Anthrax

October 4, 2001

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A 63-year-old man has been hospitalized with pulmonary anthrax, Florida Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan said Thursday.

Anthrax has been developed by some countries as a possible biological weapon, but Brogan said there was no indication the illness was related to bioterrorism.

The Lantana, Fla. man, whose name was not released, checked into a hospital on Tuesday and it was initially believed he had meningitis, Brogan said. But testing and X-rays showed that it was pulmonary anthrax, an extremely lethal disease. It is treated with antibiotics.

Florida Secretary of Health John Agwunobi said the disease is not contagious and there is no indication that anyone else has it. The disease, while rare, can be caught naturally.

Brogan said the man had recently traveled to North Carolina and became ill shortly after he returned. The incubation period for the disease can be 60 days.

Tim O’Connor, spokesman for the Palm Beach health department, said officials believe the case is isolated and it is ``very likely″ to be fatal.

Palm Beach County health officials have scheduled a news conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the case.

Anthrax is a spore-forming bacterium often carried by livestock that is especially virulent if inhaled. The disease causes pneumonia and the spores germinate and spread through the lungs, releasing toxin.

There is a vaccine to prevent the disease.

Anthrax can be caught by handling infected animals, eating contaminated meat or breathing in anthrax spores. All forms are rare, but the most recent cases _ including ones in Texas and North Dakota _ have been so-called cutaneous cases resulting from handling animals.

During the 20th century, only 18 cases of inhaled anthrax have been reported in the United States, the most recent in 1976.

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