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From Bioscience World, Winter 2003
DR. SEGARAN PILLAI, Director of State Public Health in Miami, Florida received a call last October from the CDC to rush to West Palm Beach to trace the source of the first of a series of cases of inhalation Bacillus anthracis. It set off two weeks of 18-hour days for Dr. Pillai, stalking the killer microbe. “Even though we had been rehearsing for this tragedy for three years, we never expected anything like this to happen so soon,” he said. With the index patient terminally ill in John F. Kennedy Hospital, Dr. Pillai and his team tested the patient’s home, grocery store, neighborhood park and office for spore contamination.
Positive spore counts for B. anthracis collected on Sheep's Blood Agar (SBA) with two SAS Super 180 Microbial Air Samplers helped identify the release site as the American Media Inc. building, the workplace of the index patient.
TEST RESULTS AT THE AMI identified a second man infected with anthrax. Symptoms of inhalation anthrax include fever, muscle aches and fatigue that rapidly escalate to severe systemic illness. Because he was discovered and treated so promptly, he made a complete recovery during treatment at Cedars Medical Center in Miami.
To meet the immediate demand of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to counter possible anthrax episodes in the future, David Castro, Manager of Quality Assurance Microbiology at the Bayer Corporation, tripled production of the antibiotic Cipro (Ciprogloxacin). To prevent cross-contamination of each air-handling system in his five production areas, Castro monitored each area with his SAS Microbial Air Samplers. Using contact plates with TSA agar Lecithin P-80, he sampled volumes of a cubic meter over 160 times a month using a color-coded map of each air handling system.
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