Child responding to antibiotics, media urged not to speculate

NEW YORK — A baby boy, who recently visited ABC News at the org’s world headquarters in Gotham, has tested positive for the skin form of anthrax. It is unclear whether the child, the son of a freelance news producer, contracted the potentially deadly bacteria while at the news org building.

The 7-month-old child is responding to antibiotics and is expected to recover, ABC News prexy David Westin said at a press conference Monday night.

Health officials will interview all employees who work in areas where the child visited and conduct environmental tests of parts of the building over the next two to three days. Employees will only be tested and treated if warranted.

“We are operating under the assumption that someone may have been exposed. It’s just a precaution,” said Westin. “We’re assuming the worst in order to protect the health and well-being of our employees.”

The child visited the ABC newsroom sometime in the past few weeks, probably on Sept. 28, after which he was hospitalized with an unknown disease, which turned out to be anthrax.

The news came just days after an NBC News employee was infected with the same form of anthrax.

Restraint urged

Westin urged the media not to jump to any conclusions about whether or not they are being targeted. “We don’t know what the motives of these people are. It’s not that constructive for those in the media to be speculating about that,” said Westin, who added that ABC News will continue to operate without many disruptions. “This is not going to slow us down one bit.”

An investigation was being conducted at ABC’s Gotham headquarters on Monday night and it was unclear whether any parts of the newsroom would be closed today.

“We have every expectation we’ll be able to use our facilities on Tuesday. In the event that health or police officials tell us otherwise, we have long-standing contingency plans to move our broadcasts,” said an ABC News spokesman. Both “World News Tonight” and “World News Now” are broadcast from the newsroom in the building.

Other incidents

Earlier in the day, Florida health officials said that a second employee of The Sun tabloid had contracted the inhaled form of anthrax. Since an employee of The Sun died of inhalation anthrax on Oct. 5, as many as five other employees at the American Media building in South Florida have tested positive to anthrax exposure. So far, none has developed symptoms for the disease.

Also on Monday, a powder found in a letter opened in Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle’s office tested positive for anthrax in preliminary tests.

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