They should pay me to post here
Anthrax Patient Hospitalized in NYC
A New York City man has been hospitalized after inhaling anthrax, but officials believe it was accidental and not related to terrorism.
The man traveled recently to the west coast of Africa and became ill shortly after his return, said a federal law enforcement official, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official said the anthrax may have been on animal skins.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly were expected to discuss the case at a City Hall news conference. Aides to the mayor said only the one man was injured, and was recovering in a hospital in Sayre, Pa.
It was not clear how the man came into contact with the deadly substance, but mayor's aides said it was related to his job and that federal and city officials traced the exposure to New York City after the man became ill in Pennsylvania.
Officials stressed that the case is unique and not related to any kind of intentional attack.
Weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the nation was on high alert as anthrax-laced letters popped up in several places, including New York City. NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, two U.S. senators and the offices of the New York Post were among the targets.
The anthrax attacks killed five people across the country and sickened 17. Investigators have not determined who was responsible for the attacks.
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Re: Anthrax Patient Hospitalized in NYC
Health Officials Take Samples in Anthrax Case
By SEWELL CHAN | The New York Times
Seven people who had contact with a New York City man who contracted inhalation anthrax last week are now receiving antibiotics, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said today.
The man, Vado Diomande, 44, remained in stable condition at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa., where several friends and relatives from the New York area have gone to visit him. Mr. Diomande is believed to have contracted anthrax last week from untreated animal skins, which he used to make drums for his dance troupe.
Officials from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, collected samples last night from the man's apartment in Manhattan and from a storage space in Brooklyn where the man worked, the mayor said during a news conference in Harlem to announce affordable-housing programs.
Those samples will be analyzed to determine if either space is contaminated. Mr. Bloomberg emphasized that the authorities had found no evidence of any anthrax production in either location and described the case as "a tragic accident."
New York was one of the cities affected by the anthrax attacks of 2001, which infected 22 people in the country and killed 5. On Wednesday Mr. Bloomberg said "There is no — let me repeat, no — evidence at this time of any criminal intent associated with this infection."
Mr. Diomande, a drummer and dancer, collapsed after a performance in Pennsylvania and was hospitalized there last Thursday. On Tuesday, after blood tests confirmed the presence of anthrax, Pennsylvania authorities alerted New York City officials. Wednesday morning, federal authorities concluded definitively that Mr. Diomande had inhalation anthrax.
About 5 p.m. Wednesday, federal agents, police officers, firefighters and other city workers surrounded Mr. Diomande's apartment building at 31 Downing Street in the West Village of Manhattan and the warehouse at 2 Prince Street, near the foot of the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, where he used animal skins to make drums for his dance troupe and for other musicians.
Mr. Diomande's fifth-floor apartment was sealed. Residents on the first four floors were allowed to enter the building.
The officials set up a command post near the warehouse, an eight-story building, and police cordoned off the area as workers — some carrying radiation detectors, others wearing protective suits — prepared for a floor-to-floor search.
At 8:30 p.m., Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman, said the tests at both the apartment building and the warehouse were complete and showed no evidence that anthrax had been produced there. Outside Mr. Diomande's apartment building, city health officials distributed fliers saying the residents were not "at risk for anthrax," but federal officials said they were actively investigating whether any of the hides were passed along to others.
The warehouse, identified as Pinnacle Storage on a sign, is mostly used for storage, but parts of several floors have been converted to recording and art studios and other commercial uses over the past year or so, according to occupants.
Tom Beale, 27, a wood sculptor who works on the third floor and lives nearby, said he was disturbed by the news. "Have I been exposed?" he asked. "Am I going to have to go to the hospital?"
Officials in Pennsylvania also took steps last night to reassure students and employees at the school, Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pa., where Mr. Diomande performed before he collapsed. Mr. Diomande, who is conscious and cooperating with investigators, remained in fair condition last night in the intensive-care unit at the hospital.
Mayor Bloomberg and officials in Pennsylvania said the chain of events leading to Mr. Diomande's illness began on Dec. 21, when he returned from a two-week trip to Ivory Coast. There, he obtained raw animal hides to bring home with him, the mayor said.
A city official who is close to the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case said Mr. Diomande arrived at Kennedy International Airport with four goat skins and took them in suitcases directly to his studio in Brooklyn. The skins were probably never taken to his Manhattan apartment, the official said.
Officials with the United States Department of Agriculture said no animals or animal products are allowed into the country from Africa. Customs officials said agents generally questioned anyone trying to import animal skins and seized any untanned or partially tanned hides.
A relative disputed the officials' account.
"I think the officials are confused," said a brother-in-law, Alexander Harman, 43, a computer animator in Jersey City. "He is not importing, by hand, this quantity of skins. I've always understood that he buys them from local distributors, and I am positive that he does not carry skins through customs himself. They are heavy, and he goes through sometimes 100 in a month. He's only made two trips to Africa in the last 14 years."
Dr. Melanie A. MacLennan, a friend and personal physician of Mr. Diomande, said she believed that he had been infected with anthrax overseas in the past. In December 2003, she said, he was hospitalized for six weeks in the Netherlands with a skin infection so severe that he had to receive several skin grafts on his left thigh. She said he probably contracted the bacteria in Africa.
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the New York City health commissioner, said the three people who were given antibiotics as a prevention worked with Mr. Diomande. A fourth person who worked with him will be given antibiotics when he returns to the city, Dr. Frieden said.
Such quick preventive treatment can be effective. But antibiotic treatment may not be effective in late stages of inhalation anthrax, which can quickly lead to severe breathing problems, shock and death.
In his work as a maker of drums, Mr. Diomande has used both domestic and imported skins, but he and his relatives have told investigators that he worked with the imported skins in the Brooklyn warehouse in the days preceding his trip to Pennsylvania.
He made the drums by "soaking the hide and then stretching and scraping it to remove the hair, which is potentially a scenario where he could aerosolize any spores," said Dr. Lisa Rotz, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta.
Last Thursday, after Mr. Diomande and other members of his dance company performed at the Steadman Theater at Mansfield University, he collapsed and was taken to the nearby Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital in Wellsboro, Pa., with chills, fever and fluid in his lungs. On Friday, doctors took samples to identify a possible infectious cause. The next day, he was transferred to Packer, a larger hospital about 60 miles away.
On Monday, the tests revealed the possible presence of anthrax. The hospital notified the Pennsylvania Department of Health and sent it a sample for additional tests at a state lab in Lionville, which also detected anthrax bacteria on Tuesday. The department notified the C.D.C., the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
That night, a sample was taken to the C.D.C. for definitive testing. Those tests were completed yesterday morning. Mayor Bloomberg announced the case at 3:30 p.m. in a City Hall news conference.
Dr. Rotz, the epidemiologist, said federal officials would try to determine whether health officials at every level acted as quickly as possible. "We always realize that time is of the essence when it comes to these investigations," she said. "Anthrax can be a challenge to diagnose."
She added, "We are definitely reviewing the sequence of events here to see if there's anything we can do to speed up the process, and if there is, then we'll do that."
Mark J. Mershon, the assistant director in charge of the F.B.I. field office in New York City, said there was no indication that the skins were smuggled into the country.
Although outbreaks of anthrax still occur in areas that lack livestock immunization programs, the last accidental case of inhalation anthrax in the United States occurred in 1976, according to the federal disease center.
Reporting for this article was provided by Lawrence K. Altman, Al Baker, Kate Hammer, David Johnston, William K. Rashbaum, Marc Santora, Ann Farmer, Colin Moynihan and Matthew Sweeney.
Copyright 2006The New York Times Company
Re: Anthrax Patient Hospitalized in NYC
I hear that the patient had been on a camping trip in Africa, somewhere between the Ebola River and the West Nile.
Just sniffin' around...
Re: Anthrax Patient Hospitalized in NYC
ANTHRAX MAN'S TRAGIC SLUMP
By DAVID SEIFMAN and MARSHA KRANES
Anthrax victim Vado Diomande took a turn for the worse yesterday and was reported in serious condition with difficulty in breathing as Mayor Bloomberg urged New Yorkers to say a prayer for the beloved choreographer and dancer.
"He is in serious trouble ... Whether he makes it or not, nobody knows," the mayor said at City Hall press conference.
"This is not a disease you should take lightly. Inhalation anthrax is often very fatal ... and I think your prayers have to be with him."
Officials at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa., where the 44-year-old West Village resident is being treated in the
intensive care unit, have downgraded his condition from stable to serious.
Friends posted an emotional note on the Web site of the Kotchegna dance troupe, founded by Diomande to promote the culture of his native West African nation of Ivory Coast.
"If for one moment you simply contemplate what Vado (and his loved ones) are suffering, all for the art of making drums, sharing music and dance and culture, your heart will bleed as ours does," the posting said.
The mayor also announced that parents would be contacted at two schools where Diomande performed or taught this month so they could be reassured their children have nothing to fear.
Officials identified the schools as PS 63 at 121 E. Third St. and the private Allen-Stevenson School at 132 E. 78th St.
Diomande collapsed Feb. 16 while performing in Pennsylvania, one day after processing untreated goatskins in a Brooklyn warehouse where he apparently inhaled anthrax spores in the hairs that became airborne.
Although Bloomberg described the infection as a rare fluke, he immediately mobilized the city's entire biohazard apparatus in what he called an excess of caution.
As expected, Diomande's apartment at 31 Downing St. tested positive for anthrax, and preliminary results showed the bacteria also present in his van and warehouse space.
"We're not surprised by this," said Dr. Tom Frieden, the city's health commissioner.
He said no one is at risk, except individuals on hand when the skins were actually being processed.
Some processing was conducted by an "associate" of Diomande's in a Crown Heights, Brooklyn, apartment.
The married couple and child who live there have been treated with antibiotics, as have four other individuals including Diomande's wife.
The mayor said the NYPD was also securing the residence of another man in Brooklyn with ties to the others who is involved in the skin trade.
Diomande's wife, Lisa, was maintaining a vigil at his bedside.
"She's very worried," said one relative.
Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli in Sayre, Pa.
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Re: Anthrax Patient Hospitalized in NYC
Anthrax Traces Found at 3 Sites as Victim Worsens
The Greenwich Village home of a man infected with inhalation anthrax after working with unprocessed animal skins tested positive for the deadly germ, city officials said yesterday. Tests on the van and workplace used by the man, Vado Diomande, also tested positive for traces of anthrax.
At the same time, Mr. Diomande's health worsened. Officials at a Pennsylvania hospital where he is being treated said he was having trouble breathing and have downgraded his condition to serious from stable.
Mr. Diomande is the only person found to have been infected with anthrax in this case, which he is thought to have contracted while working with goatskins to make traditional African drums. However, since Thursday investigators have expanded their search to include two new locations as they tried to pinpoint the exact origin of the anthrax.
The testing done so far supports the hypothesis that the germ was carried on animal skins. Mr. Diomande has told investigators that he brought unprocessed skins into the United States from Africa.
One of the two new locations investigators are looking at is a garage on Argyle Road in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, where they believe Mr. Diomande also obtained animal skins. The police said 50 to 60 animal skins were found stored there and city officials said they were working with Customs officials to determine if they were legally obtained. The health department said it had not yet tested the garage.
The other location is a Crown Heights home where a man may have worked with skins obtained from Mr. Diomande. Test results for anthrax traces at the home, at 1100 Dean Street, were not complete yesterday.
With investigators in white biohazard suits scouring locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan for traces of anthrax, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called a news conference to once again reassure the public that this case was not the result of terrorism and that there was no threat to the general public.
"This is not a surprise and should not cause alarm," Mayor Bloomberg said. "These tests are extremely sensitive as they must be; they can detect the presence of even a teeny number of bacteria."
Still, while the case seems to be the result of a rare and isolated case of bad fortune, the investigation highlights the difficulty in tracing the path of a microscopic pathogen. It has been more than four years since anthrax entered public consciousness when it was used as a weapon, infecting 22 people in the country, killing 5 and instilling widespread fear. Those cases remain unsolved.
This case could not be more different than the 2001 situation. The anthrax spores are not weaponized and do not spread as easily or widely; the central figure in the investigation is cooperating; and there seems to be no malicious intent. Still, at least three locations, miles apart, are contaminated and it is proving very hard to pinpoint an exact source of the anthrax.
City officials have assumed that Mr. Diomande was probably infected from unprocessed goatskins he brought into New York from Ivory Coast, a West African nation where anthrax is still endemic in livestock. From his hospital bed, Mr. Diomande told officials of this journey and his purchase of the skins, which his relatives confirmed.
But Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city health commissioner, said that they still could not be sure that those skins were the source of the anthrax.
Mr. Diomande kept skins from several sources at his Brooklyn workspace. In addition, he told investigators that he also purchased skins from the dealer on Argyle Road.
Mr. Diomande's colleague in Crown Heights, whose name was not released, is one of seven people being treated with antibiotics out of what Mr. Bloomberg said was an abundance of caution. "Let me point out that they exhibit no symptoms of anthrax infection," he said. "We just want to be absolutely sure."
Dr. Frieden said the city's investigation had been aided by a $16 million high-security laboratory that opened in 2004. With dozens of samples being collected from each location, he said the laboratory had been working around the clock.
Those tests are extremely sensitive, which is why traces of anthrax have been found in Mr. Diomande's home, even though officials do not believe he kept animal skins there.
Mr. Diomande is thought to have become infected with inhalation anthrax at his workspace on Prince Street in Downtown Brooklyn. There, he pulled, stretched, and cut the hair from the unprocessed animal skin, most likely releasing anthrax spores that he inhaled. Unprocessed skins — which have not been chemically treated with a bacteria-killing agent like formaldehyde — are often used in traditional drum-making.
Mr. Diomande told investigators that he did not use respiratory protection. Inhaling anthrax is rare, even from contaminated skins. In 50 years, there have been only nine naturally occurring cases of inhalation anthrax associated with either animal hide or hair, officials said.
Investigators explained how the anthrax may have traveled: As Mr. Diomande worked, anthrax spores most likely settled on his clothes and then got into his Dodge van when he later drove home to his apartment at 31 Downing Street in Greenwich Village. When he removed his clothes to shower, the spores on his clothes probably fell to the floor.
The amount of anthrax he would have left behind at any one point was so minimal as to have posed virtually no risk, officials said.
Still, Mr. Bloomberg said officials planned to reach out to a city school where Mr. Diomande played his drums earlier this month to reassure parents that there was nothing to worry about. He also said that the public spaces in the buildings where anthrax traces were found would be cleaned, and that residences in those buildings would be scrubbed if their owners desired.
Residents of the Downing Street building took the developments in stride, even if a bit cautiously.
Stefan Schatz, 33, who lives on the second floor, said he would probably take the city up on its offer to clean his apartment. "It's been a little unnerving knowing anthrax has been in the building," he said.
Martha Rosas, 39, who also lives in the building, said that while she was "not fazed" by the episode, she wanted her apartment cleaned. "I will get the city to scrub my apartment," she said. She paused, and then added, "Because I have a child."
Kareem Fahim, Colin Moynihan and Jeremy Smerd contributed reporting for this article.
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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Re: Anthrax Patient Hospitalized in NYC
well it's so nice that this story has a happy ending...
March 23, 2006 -- SAYRE, Pa. - The West Village performer and drum- maker stricken with severe inhalation anthrax has come through the ordeal smiling - and dancing.
Vado Diomande, 44, was all grins yesterday as he came out to greet report ers at Robert Packer Hos pital in Sayre, Pa., where he has been since falling se riously ill in mid-February.
"I'm very happy to be here today," said Diomande.
The Ivory Coast native - who contracted anthrax while making drums from untreated animal skins - is expected to be released in the next few days, and said he would like to resume dancing in two weeks, after getting some rest.
"My doctors, they were No. 1," said a beaming Diomande, his wife Lisa at his side. "With out them, I would not be here today. So I just want to say thank you to everyone."
Diomande thrilled his audience when he strode to a lectern yester day and briefly spoke before breaking into a wide smile and doing a quick dance to show off his improved condition.
"Right now, I'm OK," said Di omande, who nonetheless looked drawn from having dropped nearly 50 pounds from the first naturally occurring case of inhalation an thrax in the United States since 1976. He held his breath for re porters to demonstrate his recov ery, which followed weeks of ups and downs in his condition.
"He is a phenomenon, and a tremendously strong man," said Lisa Diomande, marveling at her husband's recovery from the brink of death.
Diomande's doctors agreed, noting the survival rate for inha lation anthrax, which affects the respiratory system, is only about 50 percent.
"I fully anticipate that Mr. Di omande is going to continue to recover," said Dr. James Walsh, adding that the traditional dancer and musician will stay on a regi men of antibiotics after his re lease. While Diomande's lung functions remain "abnormal" for now, Walsh said, "I have every expectation that he's going to be able to dance again." But, he cautioned, "I think [that will happen] more in terms of months, not weeks."
Diomande collapsed Feb. 16 after a performance in Mansfield, Pa. with his Kotchegna Dance Company. News of his diagnosis spurred fears in New York, where several people in 2001 were infected by anthrax spores intentionally hidden in mail on the heels of the 9/11 terror attacks. But authorities quickly suspected that Diomande inhaled anthrax while working with animal skins to make drums in a Brooklyn warehouse on Prince Street.
Yesterday, Diomande said he finally realized Monday night that a large cow skin - not goat skins, as earlier suspected - that he had been cutting on Feb. 9 was the probable source of the anthrax.
"That skin [was] very dirty," he said, adding that when he dropped it onto the floor, dark powder fell off. Diomande said he bought the hide from a dealer who sold both African and American cow skins.
He vowed yesterday to never cut animal skins without wetting them down first, and to make sure to work in well-ventilated spaces while wearing a mask.
Lisa Diomande said she and her husband are likely going to stay with her relatives in Jersey City after his release. Their West Village apartment, she said, is "not in a very livable condition" on the heels of decontamination efforts, in which their clothes and bedding were removed and surfaces were bleached to get rid of anthrax spores found there.
She also said, "We're very sorry" to the tenants of the warehouse in Brooklyn, for any inconvenience.