Watch CBSN Live

Florida Health Officials Search for Clues to Anthrax Cases

The State Department told US embassies around the world today to stock up on antibiotics that fight anthrax, just in case.

In Florida, the source of anthrax that killed one person and infected another remains a mystery tonight and a source of growing fear. CBS's Bobbi Harley has the latest on the search for evidence, criminal and medical.

While federal investigators picked through every last item removed from the Florida office building where anthrax was found, health authorities have yet to identify what strain of bacteria they're dealing with, or even if it was man-made or naturally occurring. There are far too few answers for people who may have been exposed.

Lieutenant Norm Engel of the Boca Raton Fire Department said, "It's going to push the panic buttons and you want peace of mind, especially if you have family."

Across the country, scientists at Northern Arizona University are now comparing the Florida samples to known strands of anthrax. They are trying to track down the source. While the FBI has nothing to link the case to last month's terrorist attacks, experts can't rule out foul play.

Amy Smithson, of the Henry L. Stimson Center, said, "This is the type of case that would be a grudge or a vendetta or a disgruntled worker."

Sixty-three-year-old Robert Stevens was buried today, 1 week after doctors confirmed he had anthrax. While hundreds of co-workers have been screened, so far health authorities have found that only one, Ernesto Blanco, was exposed to the bacteria. Today, a second round of testing began.

David Perel, an American Media employee, said, "Everybody's concerned for their families and their co-workers, but the bottom line that I've seen from our employees is that they're overcoming their fear and doing their job."

Employees were forced to go to work at a different location. Crime tape still seals off the American Media building, and today temporary offices were opened. It will still be days ahead before health officials have results from the nearly 800 people tested here.

©MMII CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue