In the past couple weeks, concerns over the threat of anthrax as a tool of terrorism have circulated in the media. The University has prepared information, guidelines and resources for the campus community to deal more effectively with an incident should one occur at the University of the Sciences.
However, it is important to keep the risks of an exposure to anthrax in perspective. Any letters sent through the mail that were contaminated with anthrax were addressed to high profile figures in the government and the media. The vast majority of anthrax scares have been hoaxes. The U. S. Postal Service has delivered more than 20 billion pieces of mail since the tragedy of September 11, 2001. A limited number of cases of anthrax disease have been contracted thus far. In additional cases, anthrax spores were found in mucous from a nose, or a skin sample. This simply means that there was an exposure to the bacteria. It does not mean that the person has been infected with the anthrax disease. In some cases, limited numbers of spores were found on a nose swab. This can occur from having contact with soil as anthrax is a common inhabitant of the soil. The medical community has expressed that at least 8,000 - 10,000 spores are needed to infect an individual.Further, anthrax is treatable with antibiotics and is not contagious.
Although chances of coming into contact with the anthrax bacteria are remote, it is extremely important we take any and all necessary precautions to protect ourselves from this latest terrorist action.
There is no research taking place at the University involving the use of anthrax or other materials identified as dangerous "select agents" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click here http://www.cdc.gov/od/sap and then browse down to "The Select Agents" (Select Biological Agents and Toxins) to see this list. However, extra precautions are being taken for securing all hazardous materials in the laboratories.
If you receive a suspicious letter or package:
Public Safety will respond and will contact local, state or federal authorities, as appropriate.
Information sessions have been provided for mail-handlers at the University by the Environmental Health and Radiation Safety Department and the Pubic Safety Department.
Some characteristics of suspicious packages and letters include the following:
Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (CDC)
CDC Anthrax Update 12/18/01
Federal Bureau of Investigation