Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





CNN BREAKING NEWS

Good Judgment Necessary: Only Four Cases of Anthrax Found Since 9/11

Aired October 17, 2001 - 12:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: How long ago did it seem that the anthrax discovery was referred to as "isolated?" It is anything but isolated. How wide spread it is I think we are just trying to figure out and walking through it quite carefully, but isolated no longer seems like the appropriate word. And what we all trying to do here is figure out a way to balance the information that we need to pass on and ought to pass on, while not making anybody any crazier, honestly, than is necessary. I am not sure what is necessary right now.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Atlanta. Let's talk about how unlikely it is even based on what has gone on in the last few days, how unlikely it is that any single viewer would come in contact with anthrax.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Excellent point, Aaron. You have the jitteriness balanced against judgment. We have only seen four cases of anthrax, truly, in this country, since this all started, since September 11. That is a very small number. It is important to keep that in mind.

We are seeing exposures which are being jumped all over by the public health officials. They are able to treat these people and we have heard over and over not that that treatment is being started early and is much more effective. So there is some triumph in the public health department here.

BROWN: I heard yesterday, or I read yesterday, and actually when I saw the number I was surprised at how high it was, so maybe it was just wrong, but that 20,000 Americans die each year from the flu. I think they were trying to give context. Does that number sound right to you?

GUPTA: I think that number sounds a little high to me, Aaron, I don't have the exact number, but that is an important point that we not forget to get to get our flu vaccines and things like that this season. I think that was maybe was what the point was.

BROWN: I think it was that, and also to give some context to what we are dealing with now which is to say that we have a handful of anthrax cases, full-blown anthrax as opposed to exposures and I think they were just trying to point out even how rare, even in this moment, how rare and unlikely an anthrax case is. So for most people, don't worry about it. Is that the advice? GEORGE: Worry, panic caution, I have been urging caution, I think, that certainly if you are concerned about it. One thing I don't recommend and I think a lot of doctors have not been recommending, is to just go out and indiscriminately start taking antibiotics, self-medicating.

If you are truly concerned about it, there are tests that can be done to see if you actually have been exposed, and the medications at that point. Be cautious. That is all I have been hearing and I concur with that fully.

BROWN: For people like -- I mean, there are obviously people here -- at this point, in this moment, it is obvious that some people are at greater risk than others. Clearly if you are in the media, there does seem to be some risk. If you are in government there seems to be some risk. If you are a postal worker there seems to be some risk.

Are there very simple things -- gloves, masks, that sort of thing, will that actually protect any of the groups I just mentioned?

GUPTA: Well, the biggest thing, Aaron, and you talk about exposures and infections again, preventing infections are sort of being addressed now by jumping all over this, making what is an ineffective way to actually spread anthrax even more ineffective by treating these people before they actually develop symptoms. So preventing infections, I think, is already being done.

The exposure part of it, there has been all sorts of different things suggested from wearing gloves -- these particles we are talking about, these spores are very small, so unless these essentially impermeable gloves they may not be as effective. The same with the masks.

One thing that I will point out, and I have heard a few times now, is that the spores, while they are very tough spores, they are pretty sensitive to sunlight, to UV light. I have heard addressed by various folks, that maybe exposing mail to UV light prior to actually delivering it might be an option. I certainly don't know all the technical aspects of that but I have heard all sorts of different suggestions.

BROWN: I heard last night on "MONEYLINE," Lou apparently got a letter or an email or something from someone saying what if you put it in the microwave? And apparently we checked that out and that doesn't get it done.

GUPTA: That is right. I haven't heard that. And someone asked me about that as well, Aaron. Microwaves are different from UV rays. The UV rays are the ones that are supposedly able to inactivate the bacteria, essentially rendering it useless.

BROWN: Sanjay, we will talk more as the afternoon goes along. Dr, Sanjay Gupta in Atlanta, as we try and work threw this and kind of balance the news that is happening with some practical information. But perhaps the most practical thing to say is while yes, while we are clearly in the middle of something, and as Tommy Thompson said, we are in the unknown. No one really knows where this is going, how widespread it is going to be.

I think we just take it one step as a time as it is being reported. Just be practical here, and realize that so far there is no widespread anthrax attack out there, or going to every home in the country. That doesn't -- what happening yet and hopefully is not going to happen.

For more information on the anthrax investigation you can stay with us, you can log on to CNN.com, AOL keyword is CNN.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top