About 200 postal workers offered tests for anthrax

Thursday, October 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ About 200 workers at the Postal Service's Maintenance Technical Support Center here have been offered tests for anthrax exposure, officials said Thursday.

The Oklahoma Department of Health recommended that 25 of the workers be tested, as well as given antibiotics, as a precaution.

But the testing was offered for all of the workers, and many were receiving the tests and antibiotics at Norman Regional Hospital.

The center tests postal machinery and had received some parts from sorting machines from postal facilities in Washington, D.C., and Trenton, N.J., said Rex Gallaher, manager of the center.

Two people who worked at the Postal Service's Brentwood station in Washington have died after being exposed to anthrax.

Dr. Mike Crutcher of the Health Department said about 25 workers in Norman may have had exposure to the parts, which arrive in boxes and are taken to a small room in one wing of the facility.

``In general, it is felt this is a very low risk situation,'' Crutcher said. He said no one at the center had reported any symptoms of anthrax.

Physicians with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all workers in 36 Washington post offices that receive mail from Brentwood station take antibiotics as a precaution.

The hospital will transport small groups of employees to be tested and the testing will take place in an isolated part of the hospital, spokesman Grant Farrimond said. The hospital should have the results of the test on Saturday.

Meanwhile, anthrax tests conducted at the hospital on six postal workers from Washington, D.C., have all come back negative. All six worked at the Brentwood station and are in Norman for training at the Postal Service Technical Training Center.

Tests are pending on a seventh trainee, from a suburb of Trenton, N.J., where authorities say an anthrax-laced letter originated.