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FOR RELEASE: October 22, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Media Advisory:
Bioterrorism and Anthrax Issues

Bioterrorism and Anthrax Daily Update 10/22/01:

  • As of 11 a.m. this morning, the Public Health Laboratory of the Oklahoma State Department of Health has performed preliminary testing on 179 environmental samples for the presence of anthrax or other biologic agents. Twenty of those were tested over the weekend. All have tested negative for biologic contamination. ·
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health has developed a standardized procedure for the collection and transport of specimens of a possible biologic agent. This procedure will be used by the initial responders at the site of a suspected biologic contamination (such as fire, police, county sheriffs, and county health department personnel) who will be collecting specimens that possibly contain a biologic agent. These procedures are available on the state health department's Web site at: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/anthrax/anthrax.htm. ·
  • The Association of State and Territorial Officials (ASTHO) has named Oklahoma's State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch as chair of its new task force to address anti-terrorism preparedness issues. ASTHO is the national non-profit organization representing the state and territorial public health agencies of the United States, U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia. One of the first tasks of the group will be to identify and prioritize the unmet infrastructure needs of public health agencies to better respond to terrorist attacks. ·
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health has provided public health guidelines for bioterrorism to city and county health departments, emergency medicine directors, infection control practitioners, infectious disease physicians, and laboratory directors as part of the Public Health Alert System. These recommendations and additional information concerning anthrax and other biologic agents can be accessed on the state health department's Web site at: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/anthrax/anthrax.htm. ·
  • State health officials continue to urge calm and caution for Oklahoma citizens. The best course of action for citizens to follow is to be alert to their health and that of their family and to report any unusual symptoms or diseases to their health care provider. In turn, health care providers should be alert for persons with symptoms consistent with anthrax or other bioterrorism agents and for any unusual disease manifestations or clusters of disease.

State health officials continue to discourage the routine use of antibiotics in the absence of any bioterrorism event in Oklahoma. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics may further contribute to widespread antibiotic resistance.

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