Thursday, March 20, 2003

Package carrying West Nile explodes at Columbus airport

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - A package labeled as containing the West Nile virus exploded at a Federal Express facility, forcing the evacuation of about 50 workers.

Fire officials said dry ice may have caused the shoebox-sized package to burst open Tuesday night at the FedEx office near Port Columbus International Airport.

The package contained brain and kidney matter of a bird that had tested positive for the virus, said Jay Carey, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health. The department was sending the material to a researcher at the University of Texas.

The package contained a live West Nile virus, Carey said, but the samples were frozen.

"Only people with open wounds who would come in direct contact with the sample material would be at any risk of infection," Carey said.

Workers were allowed back into the building about 2 a.m., four hours after emergency crews were called.

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