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FOR RELEASE: October 24, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Media Advisory:
Bioterrorism and Anthrax Issues

Bioterrorism and Anthrax Daily Update 10/24/01:

  • Note to TV News Directors and Assignment Editors: We have received numerous inquiries for B-roll footage of our Public Health Laboratory where we are currently testing environmental samples for the presence of anthrax or other biologic agents. Our laboratory is part of the Laboratory Response Network that works closely with CDC, the FBI and other state public health laboratories. In this role, we have been advised that we should avoid showing any background footage of our laboratory. Such opportunities could be used to identify any vulnerabilities. We hope you'll understand that we cannot comply with requests for B-roll of our laboratory at this time.
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health is presently tracking eight individuals who reported working or visiting the Mail Distribution Center at 900 Brentwood Road in Washington, D.C. since October 10. Six are U.S. Postal Service trainees at the U.S. Postal Service Technical Training Center in Norman, and two are Oklahoma residents. All requested nasal swabs and cultures at hospital emergency rooms and the results to date are all negative. All eight are on antibiotics dispensed through the hospital emergency rooms.
  • As of 10 a.m. this morning, the Public Health Laboratory of the Oklahoma State Department of Health has performed testing on 244 environmental samples for the presence of anthrax or other biologic agents. All have tested negative for biologic contamination. Among the samples sent for testing include a chair, spoiled food, coins, and dusty household knickknacks, as well as postal articles. Obviously, citizens need to give some thought to the items they submit. Are they merely suspicious items? If so, the best course of action may be to simply throw away. If the items actually appear threatening, then those items should be considered for further testing.
  • With Halloween approaching, the Oklahoma State Department of Health cautions that its laboratory will not be able to test Halloween candy to see if it is safe to eat. Parents should apply the “throw out if in doubt” rule and consider allowing their children to trick-or-treat only close neighbors, family and friends.
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health continues to update its Web site concerning anthrax and other biological agents. Public health guidelines and other recommendations are available at: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/anthrax/anthrax.htm.

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