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Anthrax Sent to Senate Majority Leader's Office - 2001-10-15

U.S. Capitol police say a letter received by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office contained a powdery substance that has tested positive for the potentially deadly anthrax bacteria. Senator Daschle says his office, one block from the U.S. Capitol, has been quarantined and closed.

A spokesman for the U.S. Capitol police, Lieutenant Dan Nichols, says authorities were summoned to conduct tests on the letter shortly after it was opened Monday morning.

"The first field test came back positive for anthrax," said Lt. Nichols. "In order to confirm that, we did a second field test, and that also came back as positive for anthrax."

Lieutenant Nichols says further tests will be conducted at a military facility in Maryland.

A U.S. Capitol doctor says those known to have handled the letter are taking antibiotics.

But Senator Daschle says it is not clear how many of the 40 members of his staff in his office at the time may have come in contact with the letter. "I am concerned for my staff," he said. "I feel so badly for each of them. They are innocent people caught up in a matter for which they had nothing to do. I am very, very disappointed, and angered."

Senator Daschle says he discussed the incident with other Congressional leaders.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York, there have been about a dozen reported cases of anthrax in the United States. One person has died. Federal investigators are probing cases in Florida, New York and Nevada.