Characteristics  47-year-old man, employed as postal worker
Onset date October 16, 2001
Medical care date October 21, 2001
MMWR date 50 (42), Oct. 26, 2001
Location Brentwood Mail Center, Washington DC
Probable source Daschle or Leahy letters postmarked October 9
Disease type Inhalational anthrax
Details On October 22, the patient who worked at the same distribution center was admitted to the hospital with suspected inhalational anthrax. The patient had initially presented to the ED on October 21 with complaints of 5 days of progressive fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and syncope. The patient was afebrile and had orthostatic hypotension. A chest radiograph was obtained and reported to be normal. The patient received intravenous fluids and was discharged. He returned to the ED 26 hours later following another syncopal episode and persistent gastrointestinal complaints. The patient was afebrile, hypotensive, diaphoretic, and in respiratory distress. A second chest radiograph and a chest CT revealed mediastinal lymphadenopathy and bilateral pleural effusions. Subsequent review of the first chest radiograph revealed an ill-defined area of increased density in the right subhilar region. Laboratory evaluation revealed leukocytosis and hemoconcentration. Antimicrobial therapy was initiated, and the patient was mechanically ventilated. Peripheral blood smear demonstrated gram-positive bacilli; blood cultures grew gram-positive bacilli within 18 hours and were confirmed as B. anthracis at CDC. The patient died on October 22.  

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Click for news account of Joseph Curseen Jr. (10/26/01)

Click for additional news account of Joseph Curseen Jr. (10/31/01)

Click for news account of unfolding events (11/19/01)

Click for news account of comparative medical care (11/27/01)

Click for MMWR account of Brentwood postal facility anthrax testing (12/21/01)

Click for renaming of Brentwood Post Office after Joseph Curseen, Jr.(9/26/02)

Click for lawsuits by family against hospital and hospital against Federal government (11/18/05)

Click for remembrance service for Joseph Curseen, Jr. five years later (10/25/06)

Click for follow-up of Curseen's family nearly seven years later (8/07/08)

Death date October 22, 2001