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An Important Public Health and Safety Message about
Anthrax and Other Biological Agent Threats

For More Information: Bruce Dart, 441-8000 or Tim Timmons, 441-8056

Ocotber 17, 2001

Federal, State, and local authorities continue to remain alert to the possible public health threats associated with anthrax and other biological agents. Although Lincoln and Lancaster County does not have any anthrax cases, employers and individuals will need to be especially alert to packages and letters that might have suspected lethal substances in them. Anthrax is not contagious and does not spread from one person to another.

Mayor Wesely said, "I have directed our local public health officials, local law enforcement officers, and our fire department personnel to work together on responding to any potential threats from anthrax or other biological agents. Staff from City and County government continue to work around the clock to assure the protection of public health and safety."

According to Bruce Dart, Health Director, "The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have published guidelines on how to handle anthrax and other biological agent threats. We want the general public to be informed of these guidelines and encourage individuals not to panic in the wave of recent terrorist activity. At a time when false leads and outright hoaxes have created unnecessary fear in people everywhere, Lincoln and Lancaster County residents can be assured that appropriate public health measures are being taken."

If you have public health concerns or questions regarding anthrax, you can call the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department Information and Referral number at 441- 8065, the Communicable Disease Program at 441-8053, or the 441-6000 non-emergency number at the Lincoln Police Department.

Do not call 911 unless you receive a suspicious unopened letter or package marked with a threatening message such as "Anthrax" or you have an envelope with powder or the powder spills out onto a surface.

How to Handle Anthrax and Other Biological Agent Threats

If an individual receives unopened letter(s)/package(s) with no suspicious markings or indicators and they are concerned about the letter(s)/package(s), they should not open it and throw it away.

Centers for Disease Control Guidelines:

Do Not Panic:

  1. Disease can be prevented after exposure to the anthrax spores by early treatment with the appropriate antiobiotics. Anthrax is not spread from one person to another person.
  2. For anthrax to be effective as a weapon or 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.
Suspicious Unopened Letter or Package Marked with Threatening Message Such as "Anthrax":
  1. Do not shake or empty the contents.
  2. PLACE the envelope or package in a plastic bag or some other type of container.
  3. If you do not have any container, then COVER the envelope or package.
  4. LEAVE the room and CLOSE the door, or section off the area. Keep others away.
  5. WASH your hands with soap and water.
  6. What to do next...
  7. Make a LIST all people who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized.
Envelope with Powder and Powder Spills out onto Surface:
  1. DO NOT try to CLEAN UP the powder. COVER the spilled contents immediately.
  2. LEAVE the room and CLOSE the door, or section off the area. Keep others away.
  3. WASH your hands with soap and water and prevent spreading any powder to your face.
  4. What to do next...
  5. REMOVE heavily contaminated clothing as soon as possible and place in a plastic bag, or some other container that can be sealed. Give the clothes to emergency responders.
  6. SHOWER with soap and water only as soon as possible.
  7. Make a list all people who were in the room or area, especially those who had actual contact with the powder. Give this list to both the local public health authorities and law enforcement.

    What to Do When You Suspect Room Contamination by Aerosolization (Airborne infection):

    1. Turn off local fans or ventilation units in the area.
    2. LEAVE area immediately.
    3. CLOSE the door, or section off the area to prevent others from entering.
    4. What to do next...
      • you are at HOME, then report the incident to 911.
      • you are at WORK, then report the incident to 911, and notify your building security official or an available supervisor.
    5. SHUT down air handling system in the building, if possible.
    6. Make a list all people who were in the room or area. Give this list to both the local public health authorities and law enforcement.

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