Published on August 5, 2004 at 11:30 PM
There were numerous exposures, several infections (nineteen), and five fatalities. Thousands were tested. 10,000 people in the United States took a two-month course of antibiotics after possible exposure. Hundreds or thousands of unexposed persons acquired the antibiotic Cipro through their doctors or over the Internet. Later statistical analysis claims that approximately 5 deaths and 25 non-fatal cases of anthrax were prevented by prompt antibiotic use.
All of the anthrax spores in the mail were found to be of an identical strain. This strain is one that the U.S. military used for study at USAMRIID and distributed to other government and university labs as well as to other governments including United Kingdom. The FBI claims that they are concentrating on a domestic terrorist. They now believe that the anthrax attack was not related to the September 11th, 2001 attacks.
Anthrax toxin is comprised of three proteins: protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF), and edema factor (EF). To gain entry into host cells, PA must recognize a receptor on the surface of the target cell. Once PA has bound to the cell, it then enables EF and LF to bind and form a pore through which PA forces EF and LF into the cell in a syringe-like action.