Today's Health Highlights: Nov. 12, 2001
Anthrax Found in 10 Senators' Offices Red Cross Blood Banks Set for Emergencies Report: Ex-Beatle Released From Hospital
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of The HealthDay Service:
Anthrax Traces Found in 10 Senators' Offices
Trace amounts of anthrax have been discovered in the offices of Sens. Dick Lugar and Barbara Boxer, bringing to 10 the number of senators' offices found in recent days to be contaminated. All 10 are in the building where an anthrax-filled letter was opened Oct. 15, according to the Associated Press.
Lugar, R-Ind., was told last night that a minute amount of anthrax was found in his office in the Hart Senate building, but that it posed no health risk, Lugar's office said today. David Sandretti, spokesman for Boxer, D-Calif., said today that aides to the senator were told last night that trace amounts of the bacteria were found on their office's mailroom table.
Over the weekend, officials had said anthrax spores were found in the offices of eight other senators who work in that building. Again, the amounts were so small, they didn't pose a health risk.
Yesterday, traces of the germ were discovered in the offices of Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Russ Feingold, D-Wis.; Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.; Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. On Saturday, trace amounts were found in the Hart building offices of Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho; Bob Graham, D-Fla.; and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Trace amounts were also found in the office of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., in the Longworth House office building, officials said.
Capitol Police Lt. Dan Nichols said yesterday that the latest findings were not unexpected. Police believe letters delivered to other offices in the Hart building may have been contaminated by the anthrax-filled letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
And Dr. John Eisold, the Capitol physician, said the trace amounts of anthrax posed no health risk and no further testing or treatment is necessary for office workers or visitors.
Also Saturday, the Postal Service moved mail-processing operations from its Brentwood facility to a location on V Street in northeast Washington, the AP said.
Officials determined the Brentwood facility, which processes most mail for the District of Columbia and handled the Daschle letter, was so contaminated that it will probably take months to remove the anthrax. Two mail handlers at Brentwood died from inhaling anthrax.
The latest anthrax discoveries followed the FBI's release of a psychological profile of the terrorist who mailed the anthrax letters. He's probably somewhat of a loner with scientific ability who "lacks the personal skills necessary to confront others" face to face, the FBI said, according to ABC News.
The culprit "did not select his victims randomly," the FBI said in a three-page, carefully worded assessment issued more than one month after the disease first surfaced. He "may hold grudges for a long time, vowing that he will get even with 'them,' one day," the AP reported.
The FBI issued the profile after Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge expressed hope that the anthrax attacks were on the wane. But he acknowledged that investigators were "still no closer to identifying specifically the origin of the anthrax or the perpetrators," the AP said.
The anthrax-by-mail attacks have killed four people, including the two Brentwood postal workers, and sickened 13, the AP said, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.
Red Cross Has Extra Blood for Emergencies
The American Red Cross has a 10-day supply of blood on hand because of the massive donations after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. But it also has thrown out some blood because it couldn't be frozen in time, the Associated Press reported, quoting agency officials.
The organization, which previously had only a one-to-three day supply, has built up the inventory of liquid blood to 10 days, and frozen blood to about a half-day supply, the AP said.
The Red Cross, which supplies about half of America's blood, hopes to freeze more, to ensure adequate blood in case of national emergencies, senior vice president Bill Blaul said yesterday.
"There's too much uncertainty, too many warnings from the government . . . We don't ever want to be caught with not enough blood,'' Blaul said. "To go on with a one-to-three day inventory is playing a risky game.''
Some blood experts have criticized the Red Cross for encouraging more donations than were needed to treat the relatively few survivors in New York City, after the Sept. 11 attacks. They have raised repeated concerns that the Red Cross would be forced to discard blood before it could be used, the AP said.
Of the blood collected, the organization has destroyed less than 10 percent of the platelets and red cells and none of the plasma, Blaul said.
Report: Ex-Beatle Leaves Hospital
Former Beatle George Harrison was released from Staten Island University Hospital in New York City over the weekend, ABC News reported today.
He is said to be staying at a private home on Staten Island. Unnamed sources cited by ABCsay Harrison is probably at the house of his physician, Dr. Gil Lederman.
Lederman did respond to e-mail and phone messages, but would talk only about his stereotatic radiosurgery procedure, and how it has helped many patients who suffer from various forms of cancer. Lederman would not confirm that Harrison is his patient, ABC News said.
Although Harrison is undergoing radiation treatments for a brain tumor, experts say they won't stop the spread of cancer from his lungs, according to the network.
Earlier this year, Harrison had a tumor removed from his lung in the United States, and more recently received radiation therapy in Switzerland for the brain tumor, ABC said.