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New York man accidentally poisoned by anthrax

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NEW YORK, Feb 22 (Reuters) A New York man has been accidentally exposed to anthrax poisoning, most likely from handling infected animal skins, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today.

There was no evidence of terrorism or criminal intent, the mayor said. He said the 44-year-old man was believed to have been infected by animal hides he brought back from Africa, and was hospitalized in Pennsylvania, where he became sick.

''At this time we have every reason to believe that this infection is an isolated, accidentally and naturally transmitted case,'' Bloomberg told a news conference.

Nobody else was sickened but three other people were being treated with antibiotics as a precaution, Bloomberg said.

Anthrax is an acute, sometimes deadly infectious disease caused by a spore-forming bacterium. While anthrax can grow naturally, it also can be used as a biological weapon.

In 2001, five people died when anthrax was sent in letters to media and government offices in Washington, Florida and elsewhere, raising fears of bioterrorism following the September 11 attacks. Those cases have not been solved.

Reuters PDS VP0230

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