Characteristics 38-year-old woman, employed by NBC (assistant to Tom Brokaw)
Onset date September 25, 2001
Medical care date October 1, 2001
MMWR date 50 (41), Oct. 19, 2001, 50 (42), Oct. 26, 2001
Location Manhattan, New York City
Probable source Letters postmarked September 18
Disease type Cutaneous anthrax
Details Between September 19 and 25, she handled a suspicious letter postmarked September 18 at her workplace. The letter was not found until October 12 when it was sent to the New York City Department of Health for testing, confirmed to contain B. anthracis. On September 25, the patient had a raised lesion on the chest, which over the next 3 days developed surrounding erythema and edema. By September 29, the patient developed malaise and headache. On October 1, a clinician examined the patient and described an approximately 5 cm long oval-shaped lesion with a raised border, small satellite vesicles, and profound edema. The lesion was nonpainful and was associated with left cervical lymphadenopathy. Serous fluid from the lesion was obtained and was negative by gram stain and culture. The patient was prescribed oral ciprofloxacin. Over the next several days, the lesion developed a black eschar, and a biopsy was obtained and sent to CDC for testing. The tissue was positive by immunohistochemical staining for the cell wall antigen of B. anthracis. Treated with ciprofloxacin and clinical improved.

Click for news account of Erin O'Connor (10/13/01)

Click for news account of testing of exposure letter (10/14/01)

Click for additional news on anthrax testing following exposure (10/14/01)

Click for excerpt on Erin O'Connor in Newsweek article (10/22/01)

Click for reflections and details of Erin O'Connor investigation (10/08/02)

Click for follow-up of Erin O'Connor nearly seven years later (8/01/08)

Death date Not applicable