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The world at war
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The world at war
By Aaron Wherry
For the first time, Wednesday, United States officials admitted they cannot guarantee the safety of the country's mail service and are asking all Americans to wash their hands after handling any letters or packages.
"We are learning as we go," explained Postmaster General John Potter, adding he could not fully guarantee disease-free mail in the U.S., instructing people to wash their hands after handling mail.
"People should wash their hands in soap and water just to make sure that if anything is on the envelope, that they're clean," said Deborah Willhite, a senior vice-president of the Postal Service.
"This is new for us. We've never been through a bioterrorist attack before," said United States Surgeon General David Satcher. "I'm worried that we're being attacked and we don't fully understand the attack."
Satcher also admitted "we were wrong" not to respond more aggressively to tainted mail in the Washington, D.C..
Three additional cases of suspected inhalation anthrax have been discovered in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington, all linked to a letter sent to U.S. Senator Tom Daschle the same letter being blamed for anthrax cases in New Jersey and Washington.
These latest suspected infections mean up to 13 cases of inhalation anthrax have been identified in the U.S., resulting in three deaths. Six Americans have tested positive for the less-dangerous skin form of the disease.
"On Sept. 11, this great land came under attack and [it] is still under attack as we speak," said U.S. President George W. Bush. "Our government is doing everything we can. We are learning about terror and evil and our country has responded favourably."
At the White House, 200 employees are taking antibiotics as a precaution following Tuesday's discovery of anthrax at a remote mail-handling facility, said spokesman Ari Fleischer, adding none have tested positive for exposure.
Thousands of postal workers in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. are already taking medication as a precaution against anthrax infection.
Also Wednesday, U.S.-lead air strikes on the Afghan capital of Kabul claimed the lives of 22 Pakistani militants. U.S. warplanes also struck Taliban front-line positions north of the capital for the fourth straight day.
with files from Associated Press and Canadian Press