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Florida Anthrax May Be Manmade

Environmental tests on the American Media building in Boca Raton, Florida, indicate there are no traces of the anthrax bacteria in the building except those found on the computer keyboard of a man who died from the disease, according to Florida health official Frank Penela, who stressed that the testing is not yet complete. The building remains closed.

CNN is reporting that its sources have said that investigators have identified the strain that killed Robert Stevens as one developed by an unidentified lab in Iowa in the 1950s; however, health officials caution that this report is preliminary and by no means definitive. It is not known whether the lab is still in operation.

When a second man, Ernesto Blanco, who also worked at the newspaper?s offices tested positive for exposure to anthrax, investigators discovered that the strain that infected Stevens was the same strain that was found on the second employee.

If this anthrax strain can be traced to a specific laboratory, the FBI will begin to track down all the people who could have had access to it and may soon discover whether this was a terrorist attack or a ?copycat? crime.

Recent reports of possible anthrax discoveries in Florida and Virginia have proven to be false alarms.

Insight: It appears that it may be possible to determine with some degree of certainty whether or not this is a genuine terror attack or a copycat crime. Until such time, authorities are trying to be careful not to spread alarm. However, drugstores are reporting sales of the antibiotic Cipro at 20 times the normal rate, and there have been numerous pranks and scares involving envelopes.

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