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Posted November 6, 2002 | comments Leave a comment

Anthrax victim back in the hospital

By Natalie Anzolut

A year after he became infected with anthrax, a Winchester man is back in the hospital, comatose and in critical condition, his wife said Tuesday.

Connie Hose said her husband, David, remains in the critical care unit of Winchester Medical Center after being taken there on Oct. 29.

"He's really, really sick. He's critical," she said.

Hose is suffering from a severe case of pneumonia, and doctors expect this most recent hospital stay will be a long one, said his wife, adding that five to six weeks is the estimate.
Hose, 60, contracted inhalation anthrax on Oct. 22, 2001, at his job at the U.S. State Department mail facility in Sterling, when several powder-laced letters were sent through postal facilities across the country. The culprit in the bioterrorism attack has never been found.

The past year has been difficult for Hose, with remnants of the disease ranging from asthma to memory loss. Full recovery, despite medication and physical therapy, has remained beyond Hose's reach.

Last week, Mrs. Hose said, her husband said he was feeling tired after a rehab session and went to bed, where he remained for two days.

"He laid down and wouldn't eat," she said.

His symptoms continued to worsen until late last Tuesday, when he finally asked his wife to call the rescue squad.

Hose, whose blood pressure had dropped to 35 over 45, was diagnosed with pneumonia and put on 100 percent oxygen. Both of his lungs are full of fluid, and drugs have left him immobilized.

"He doesn't talk, he doesn't move. It's like he's actually comatose," said Mrs. Hose.

Staff at the hospital periodically turn him on his stomach, she said, in attempts to aspirate the fluid.

Mrs. Hose said she and her daughter, Terri Chrisman, were shocked when they first saw him in the hospital. To combat the low blood pressure, her husband had to be given fluids, which left his body bloated.

The local Health Department contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Mrs. Hose said, but no one is willing to say whether her husband's condition is related to his anthrax exposure. The CDC's response, she said, was "if you need us, let us know."

"It's real frustrating, you know, but we keep going," she said. "We ask questions and for some of them we get good answers and some we don't."

Over the past year, Hose has continued to have blood samples taken by state and federal health officials for monitoring. He has had visits from CDC scientists, as well as personnel from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md., and health officials from the U.S. Naval Hospital in Bethesda.

Hose continues to report new symptoms to health officials, he said in a recent interview, but doesn't receive solid answers.

"Constantly, all you hear from anyone, especially the CDC, is 'We don't know,'" he said recently.

He is one of a half-dozen survivors of inhalation anthrax, which usually is fatal, and, in turn, perplexing to health officials.

Mrs. Hose said Tuesday, however, she has no doubt this recent illness is related to the disease.

"If his system wasn't so far down from the anthrax, he probably would have never gotten pneumonia," she said.

The prayer circles at church and beyond have started again for her husband, said Mrs. Hose, who waits at the hospital with her daughter at her side.

"I think they are doing everything they can," she said.


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