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FOR RELEASE: December 14, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Media Advisory:
Bioterrorism and Anthrax Issues

Bioterrorism and Anthrax Weekly Update 12/14/01:

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to investigate cases of bioterrorism-related anthrax. The Oklahoma State Department of Health and other state and local health departments continue to remain on high alert for further incidents. CDC has adjusted its case total for anthrax to 22 cases - 18 confirmed and 4 suspect cases.

CDC continues to investigate a case of inhalational anthrax that killed a 94-year-old Oxford, CT, woman. The source of the anthrax is still unknown. Multiple environmental sampling of all known places where the woman frequented have tested negative. CDC is investigating a postal processing and distributing center in Wallingford, CT. Mail sorters in that facility have tested positive for anthrax spores, but no direct exposure has been identified.

Although CDC considers that the risk of exposure to anthrax from the mail is extremely low, it has issued precautions for opening mail which include: avoid opening suspicious mail; keep mail away from your face when opening and don’t sniff the mail; don’t shake or otherwise vigorously disturb contents of mail so that any particles may float in the air; and wash hands after opening the mail.

As of noon today, the Public Health Laboratory of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) had performed testing on a total of 850 environmental samples for the presence of anthrax or biologic agents. All have tested negative for biologic contamination.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health receives daily updates from the CDC and other government agencies regarding current issues in anthrax and other bioterrorism concerns. This information is posted on the Oklahoma State Department of Health's Web site at http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/anthrax/anthrax.htm.


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