Infectious disease expert refuses to toe official line
- Stevens' diagnosis on Thursday -- the first U.S. case of inhalational
anthrax in nearly a quarter century -- fueled intense speculation about a
bioterrorist incident. Most of the suspected hijackers in Sept. 11's
attacks spent time in Palm Beach County. One of them, Mohamed Atta, flew
planes on Aug. 16, 17 and 20 from the Lantana airport, less than a mile
from Stevens' home, and looked at crop-dusters at a Belle Glade airport in
the days before the attacks.
The coincidence of suspected terrorists living in Palm Beach County was too
much for Dr. Frederick Southwick, chief of infectious diseases at the
University of Florida's Shands Health Center. He thinks someone released
anthrax in the area.
"The airborne version . . . that's just impossible," Southwick said
Saturday. "Somebody has got to be putting it in the air.
"There wouldn't be any other way to have that in Florida or the nation
except through terrorists."
He said that's because: Cattle in the United States are vaccinated against
anthrax; a very large source of anthrax would be needed to cause an
inhalation infection such as Stevens'; Stevens lived near the airport; and
his infection is an extremely rare medical event.
Palm Beach Post, 7 Oct 2001