Anthrax test on N.J. postal worker negative; testing on facility to be done this weekend

Saturday, October 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Results of an anthrax exposure test on a postal worker who transferred from New Jersey to the Postal Service Technical Training Center in Norman has come back negative, hospital officials said Friday.

That employee was among seven who went in for testing at Norman Regional Hospital earlier this week and were offered preventive antibiotics.

Six were from the Washington, D.C. area and had contact with the Brentwood station there, where two postal employees died after being exposed to anthrax. The employee from Trenton, N.J., came from a station where at least one postal worker has fallen ill with the inhaled form of the disease.

Meanwhile, test results on another 123 workers at another Norman postal facility should be available Saturday or Sunday, said Grant Farrimond, a spokesman for the hospital.

The Oklahoma Department of Health recommended that 25 of about 200 workers at the Postal Maintenance Technical Support Center be tested. A total of 123 took the tests.

Officials recommended the testing because the facility receives parts from mail sorting machines from all over the nation. The center has received boxes of parts from Washington and Trenton, N.J. in the past few weeks.

The 25 workers recommended receive testing had come in close proximity to the parts or had access to the small room where the boxes are take upon arrival, health officials said.

``We're expecting a few more of the maintenance workers to come in on Monday, who, for whatever reason, couldn't come in for testing Thursday or Friday,'' Farrimond said.

According to health officials, none of the machine parts have been used in Oklahoma, and the maintenance employees are at very low risk of anthrax exposure. Environmental testing will be performed at the postal maintenance facility this weekend, said Kevin Pipes, chief of staff at health department.

``We won't have the environmental reports back until the first part of the week,'' Pipes said.

The 290,000 square foot Postal Service Technical Training Center in south Norman draws postal employees in from around the country. The Postal Maintenance Technical Support Center is located in the northern part of the city.