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Latest US Anthrax Letter Investigated For Criminal Leads - 2001-11-21

Federal investigators in Washington say a letter found last week addressed to Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy contained enough potent anthrax to kill at least two people. Nearly two months after the first deadly anthrax case, investigators are still baffled in their investigation into who is responsible.

Investigators say an evidence bag containing the letter addressed to Senator Leahy contained 23,000 anthrax spores, making it among the most deadly anthrax-tainted letters found so far.

It surfaced as investigators sifted through hundreds of bags of congressional mail that had been quarantined after anthrax was found in a letter sent to Senate majority leader Tom Daschle last month. The FBI says the letter addressed to Senator Leahy carried the same Trenton, New Jersey postmark. It's now being examined for clues to its origin.

Meanwhile, Connecticut governor John Rowland says the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control are investigating whether a woman in that state in her 90's has now become the latest person to contract inhalation anthrax. He tells reporters there's no obvious explanation as to how the elderly woman might have come in contact with the bacteria.

"We're a little bit disturbed as to how this could have happened at this point," he said. "We thought it could have perhaps been natural anthrax but that's only through contact. This is inhaled anthrax so that rules out a natural contact so we really have no other leads at this point."

If confirmed, hers would be the first new case of anthrax poisoning reported in several weeks.

Nearly two months after the first anthrax case surfaced, investigators have reported no progress in finding who is responsible for spreading the deadly bacteria, which has killed four people and left at least 17 others infected. U.S. officials have not ruled out a link with terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden, but have offered no evidence to support a Bin Laden connection.