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FOR RELEASE: October 26, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Media Advisory:
Bioterrorism and Anthrax Issues

Bioterrorism and Anthrax Daily Update 10/26/01:

  • Staff from the Oklahoma State Department of Health will be on site at the U.S. Postal Service Maintenance Technical Support Center (MTSC) in Norman tomorrow to accompany a contractor hired to do an environmental assessment of the facility. This follows events of the last two days when it was determined that the MTSC had received parts from postal machines from the Washington, D.C. and Trenton, N.J. facilities where anthrax has been identified. The Oklahoma State Department of Health has determined that MTSC employees were at low risk of exposure to anthrax, however, all have been offered testing through Norman Regional Hospital. Hospital spokesman Grant Farrimond reports that as of 3 p.m. today, 123 employees have been tested. All employees were offered an antibiotic and antibiotics were recommended for those 25 employees who handled the parts or worked in the area where they were located.
  • As of 3 p.m. today, the Public Health Laboratory of the Oklahoma State Department of Health has performed testing on 287 environmental samples for the presence of anthrax or other biologic agents. All have tested negative for biologic contamination.
  • State health officials certainly do encourage Oklahomans to get their flu shot this fall, but getting the influenza vaccination should not be considered as a way to avoid confusing flu with anthrax disease. Influenza vaccine is the primary means to prevent influenza and its severe complications. The vaccine does not prevent flu-like illness caused by agents other than influenza. Most flu-like illnesses are not caused by either influenza or anthrax. Many other infectious agents can cause illnesses that begin with flu-like symptoms.
  • Check out the Oklahoma State Department of Health's Web site for more information concerning anthrax and other biological agents: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/anthrax/anthrax.htm.

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