Anthrax Found In US Embassy
Mail In Lithuania

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Anthrax has been found in mail sent to the United States embassy in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, Lithuanian health officials said on Thursday.
It was the second U.S. diplomatic mission, after Peru, to find the deadly bacteria in mail sent from the State Department in Washington, where anthrax has been found in two mailrooms amid a nationwide scare over the disease which has killed four people.
"Following tests, we can say with a 95, maybe even 98 percent certainty, that we found anthrax in at least in one of the five mailbags," Kazimiera Rutiene, head of the microbiology laboratory of the Vilnius public health center, told Reuters.
Rutiene said the laboratory used for testing the mail, and the mailbags holding it, had been disinfected and laboratory staff who carried out the tests had been given antibiotics.
The U.S. embassy confirmed the information and said it had already taken precautionary measures.
"We have taken precautions, our mailroom has already been sealed, every employee in the embassy has been offered antibiotics and we are waiting for further instructions from the State Department about cleaning and decontamination procedures," embassy public affairs officer Michael Boyle told Reuters.
Boyle said no one in the embassy had been diagnosed with anthrax, and the employees who routinely handled the mail would take a course of antibiotics for about a week.
"At this point we intend to have the embassy open, having taken the precaution of sealing the mailroom, but we are in consultations with the State Department in Washington and will follow their instructions," he added.
The embassy said on Wednesday it had sealed off its mailroom on suspicion that two mailbags it had received could contain the deadly bacteria.
Local officials said they were working to identify other individuals who might have been in contact with the mailbags.
"We will also have to check the premises (of the embassy) where those mailbags were as well as their transport," said Vytautas Bakasenas, deputy director of the Infectious Disease Control Centre in Vilnius.
"We started testing those mailbags because the U.S. embassy employees found out that those mail deliveries may have come from the same post offices in the United States where anthrax was found," Bakasenas added.
The State Department is one of many federal agencies in Washington affected by the anthrax scare.
The latest person to die of inhaled anthrax in the United States was a New York hospital worker who died on Wednesday.
Authorities said they were mystified by her death as they had no idea how she encountered the disease. All three previous deaths were due to letters laced with the powdery anthrax spores.
A total of 16 cases of anthrax, six of them the less dangerous skin anthrax, have been confirmed in the United States and most were caused by spores sent through the mail.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft told a news conference on Wednesday that investigators were working hard to find the source of the anthrax but were no closer to cracking the case.

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