WASHINGTON (AP) -- Health officials are awaiting test results from five patients who have symptoms consistent with anthrax after a local postal worker was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease. The Capitol reopened Monday but congressional buildings remained closed for environmental tests.
More than 2,200 postal employees in the capital area were being tested for exposure to the disease, and the Postal Service closed two facilities where the sick man worked.
The man, who postal officials identified as Leroy Richmond, was in serious but stable condition at a suburban Virginia hospital near his home, officials said Monday.
"We're hearing a good prognosis but the next 24 hours are critical," Postmaster General John Potter said on NBC's "Today" program.
Potter said the U.S. Postal Service was increasing security at its facilities and beginning to introduce technology that can sanitize mail. But he said postal workers were not being ordered to wear gloves and face masks.
Authorities were watching five other people in the area who have flu-like symptoms that can indicate inhalation anthrax, said Dr. Ivan C.A. Walks, the city's chief health officer. The five are hospitalized and receiving treatment -- four in Washington and one in suburban Virginia, he said.
Potter indicated that all five others were also postal employees.
Initial tests are negative on the first of the five to be tested. "The other employees are being tested as we speak," he said.
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