Printer Friendly

I'VE GOT ANTHRAX BUG; Briton tells of his anguish as test showed he'd been exposed to killer disease.


A BRITON last night relived the awful moment he learned he had been exposed to anthrax.

Journalist David Wright said: "Nothing can cushion the shock. I shot back in my chair and thought, 'This can't be happening to me.'"

David, 62, works at Florida newspaper company American Media, where his friend Bob Stevens died of anthrax. This is his story:

MY WIFE was at the top of a ladder hanging Halloween decorations when I returned from FBI headquarters. "Darling, you'd better come down now," I said.

I broke the news that 30 minutes earlier, two nice young lady doctors from the Federal Centre for Disease Control had told me I'd tested positive for anthrax exposure.

Anthrax, the word that has gripped America with fear since the death of my friend Bob.

Investigators believe he breathed in the spores on September 19. Sixteen days later he was dead.

A few days after that, live anthrax spores were found on Bob's computer keyboard. At about the same time, doctors in a Miami hospital discovered that our mailman, Ernie Blanco, had the spores in his nose.

Our office was evacuated, then closed - perhaps forever.

At 2.30am on Monday, a supervisor rang me. I was told to report to Palm Beach County health department for a nasal swab at 9am.

Long before nine, more than 500 worried employees had arrived.

At 4pm, with dozens still waiting, a nurse stuck a Q-tip up my nose and sent me off with a two-week supply of Cipro antibiotics.


Two days later came the first blood test.

I guess I knew I was in trouble when I was shown into the room at the FBI and found two doctors there as well as agents.

Dr Greene said: "Your blood test is back - I'm afraid you've tested positive for exposure to anthrax," and I shot back in my chair.

I kept telling myself: "Surely this can't be happening to me. I feel great.

I searched for an explanation. My office is corridor away from Bob's.

Then I remembered that on the day he died, I had gone into his office with the sad task of interviewing his boss for an obituary.

I was not close to Bob's desk. The editor I talked to did not test positive, nor did most of the people in the office. Could it possibly have happened then?

The doctors assured me I was in no danger and I was not infectious. But I had to keep taking Cipro for 60 days.

My wife Carole was amazing. She hugged me and told me everything would be all right.

Just in case, she had her own blood test and supply of Cipro. Our lives began to revolve around taking those tablets at the right time.

Fear and ignorance about anthrax are rampant. Colleagues at the office reported being shunned, with hair appointments abruptly cancelled and people avoiding them at the gym.

But I have decided to go public. To stay silent would make the terrorists the winners.

My heroes are the unseen antibodies, fighting the battle of my life inside me. God bless 'em!

DAVID is among those victims who have tested positive for exposure to anthrax without developing the disease itself.

So far, six cases of infection have been confirmed. The only person to die was Bob Stevens, a 63-year-old grandfather from Maidenhead, Berkshire who worked as a photo editor on The Sun newspaper.

A Scots colleague of Bob's, Joe West, has told how he handled the killer letter but decided not to open it.

Glaswegian Joe, 60, said the bulky envelope containing the spores was addressed to film star Jennifer Lopez, care of the paper.

Joe recalled: "I could feel something cylindrical inside. Something told me, 'Don't open it' so I tossed it in the garbage."

An assistant retrieved the envelope and found it held a letter, a cigar tube, a tobacco tin and a detergent carton.

Colleague Roz Suss said: "In the middle of the letter was a pile of what looked like pink-tinged talcum powder.

"Bob's eyesight wasn't very good, so his face was right above the powder as he peered at the letter for several seconds."

A tiny Star of David, emblem of Israel, was found among the powder.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 19, 2001
Next Article:SADDAM IN THE FRAME; UN's Iraq expert says anthrax attacks point to work of tyrant.

Related Articles
ANTHRAX IN AIR VENT; US government offices closed down in new scare 31 test positive and 200 more to receive medicineFears of disease outbreak spread...
I'VE GOT ANTHRAX; Ex-Mirror man tells of his nightmare at testing positive in US bio-terror outbreak.
WAR ON TERROR: VICTIM'S ORDEAL: Darling, you had better come down ..I have got something to tell you. I've tested positive for anthrax.
DE NIRO FACES TEST FOR ANTHRAX; Hollywood stars in killer bug alert after trip to infected HQ.
WAR ON TERROR: WORLD ON ALERT: ANTHRAX VICTIM NO 7; Newspaper secretary gets disease: Scare as spores are found in 2 post offices.
You know where to stick your anthrax..; Defiant victim Johanna's message to bin Laden.
You know where to stick your anthrax..; THE VICTIM Defiant victim Johanna's message to bin Laden.
Reporter tells of anthrax nightmare.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters