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'Anthrax won't take my daughter'.

THE mother of a British woman who developed anthrax after apparently opening a letter sent to her boss, one of America's top news anchormen, has spoken of her daughter's ordeal.

Claire Fletcher, 27, is one of seven people in the US who have contracted the disease. One, British-born Florida picture editor Bob Stevens died.

Miss Fletcher was diagnosed on Thursday after developing a swelling on her face.

But her mother, Jenniffer, 55, said her daughter was feeling well and responding to antibiotics.

Mrs Fletcher, who has two other daughters - Emma, 29, and Sarah, 24 - said: "Claire knew about the possibility of anthrax because obviously she had heard about what had happened with the NBC staff. But she originally thought it was a midge bite.

"She has been put on very powerful antibiotics now and I do not think there is any risk to her."

Mrs Fletcher, who lives with her husband Bernard in the Sheffield suburb of Fullwood, said her daughter went to the US seven years ago and started at CBS as a "page girl", running errands.

Now, she said, Claire was one of anchorman Dan Rather's most trusted assistants.

Mr Fletcher, a 60-year-old retired government scientist, said: "I spoke to her last night and she said she has got to be on antibiotics for 60 days. She is supposed to be coming home for Christmas and hopefully that'll still be the case."

The FBI and the postal service have stepped up the hunt for those behind the attacks by offering a million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

As well as the seven people in the US who have contracted the disease, about 41 people have tested positive to anthrax exposure in Florida, New York and Washington DC.

One of them is former Mirror reporter David Wright, 62, who worked for the same Florida-based newspaper group as Mr Stevens. Londoner Mr Wright said he first started to worry he might have been exposed to anthrax when it was confirmed his friend and colleague had contracted the disease.

Mr Wright said in the Mirror:

"Usually I am not given to premonitions. But last Monday, after I had the nasal swab, somehow I knew.

"But of course, it still did not cushion the shock when I was told."

CAPTION(S):

MOTHER'S HOPE: Claire Fletcher contracted anthrax while opening CBS newsreader Dan Rather's mail, but her mother, Jenniffer (top left), holding a picture of Claire and her sisters, says her daughter will recover
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 20, 2001
Words:417
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