Yale alum has skin anthrax

Yale alumnus Mark Cunningham ’85, an editor at the New York Post, has been diagnosed as having skin anthrax.

His case was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Nov. 2, making it the 18th anthrax case in the United States since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Cunningham, an editorial page editor, said he likely had contact with a suspicious letter mailed to the Post Sept. 18. Cunningham said this same letter is thought to have been responsible for the skin anthrax diagnosed in two other Post employees.

“How or when I came into touch with [the letter], I’ll probably never know,” Cunningham said.

Post spokeswoman Suzi Halpin said Cunningham is being treated with Cipro and is expected to make a full recovery.

Cunningham said he went to the emergency room on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 28.

“What looked like a pimple on my forehead became swollen with a collapsed gray thing,” Cunningham said.

He said he suspected anthrax because the “thing” on his forehead matched a symptom described regularly by the press.

Cunningham has the seventh case of suspected or confirmed skin anthrax in New York City, all of which are linked to the media. New York City hospital worker Kathy Nguyen died of inhalation anthrax last week, and it is still unclear how she contracted the disease.

Cunningham said the New York Post is pro-America, which he said might make the publication unpopular with terrorist groups and Osama bin Laden, who is believed by the Bush administration to be responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Halpin said Cunningham is the third Post employee infected, and she said all three cases have been confirmed by the New York City Health Department.

“I think this is directed at the New York Post editorial pages,” Cunningham said. “I don’t feel personally attacked or personally violated.”

Johanna Huden, who Halpin said works in the same area as Cunningham, was diagnosed with skin anthrax in October.

A male employee in the Post’s mailroom was also infected, but his name has not been released, Haplin said.

Cunningham said he missed work Monday, Oct. 29 just to be safe but is now back to his normal routine.

“It’s really no big deal,” Cunningham said. “It’s just a skin infection.”

Cunningham said his illness does not make him feel any closer to the attacks and aftermath of Sept. 11.

Cunningham said his job running the Post’s op-ed pages is what makes him feel a part of the crisis and that his case of skin anthrax is trivial compared to all that the United States is facing.

“All the added freakout stuff has nothing to do with the skin stuff itself, it has to do with all that’s going on,” he said.

Cunningham also said the crisis has affected other people’s lives more significantly than it has affected his own.

“So many people have been casualties of the attacks of Sept. 11 and so many people were heroes of that day,” he said. “I don’t feel a part of this in any meaningful way compared to their burden.”

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