Anthrax and Biological Threats - What To Do

Many facilities in communities around the country have received anthrax threat letters. Most were empty envelopes; some have contained powdery substances. The purpose of these guidelines (released by the Centers for Disease Control October 12, 2001) is to recommend procedures for handling such incidents. You may want to print these guidelines and keep them handy.

DO NOT PANIC

1. Anthrax organisms can cause infection in the skin, gastrointestinal system, or the lungs. To do so the organism must be rubbed into abraded skin, swallowed, or inhaled as a fine, aerosolized mist. Disease can be prevented after exposure to the anthrax spores by early treatment with the appropriate antibiotics. Anthrax is not spread from one person to another person.

2. For anthrax to be effective as a covert agent, it must be aerosolized into very small particles. This is difficult to do, and requires a great deal of technical skill and special equipment. If these small particles are inhaled, life-threatening lung infection can occur, but prompt recognition and treatment are effective.

If you receive a suspicious unopened letter or package marked with a threatening message such as "Anthrax:"

1. Do not shake or empty the contents of any suspicious envelope or package.