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FOR RELEASE: December 21, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Media Advisory:
Bioterrorism and Anthrax Issues

Bioterrorism and Anthrax Weekly Update 12/21/01:

  • This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began training state and local health officials on how to recognize smallpox and quickly contain an outbreak spread by terrorists. There is no evidence that intentionally released smallpox is any more of a threat than it was before Sept. 11. Even so, the CDC wants to make sure state and local health officers -- the first line of defense against a bioterrorism attack -- don't confuse smallpox in its early stages with less dangerous infections, like chickenpox or syphilis. Three staff persons from the Oklahoma State Department of Health attended this CDC training.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week issued three options for individuals exposed to inhalational anthrax. These recommendations were offered by the agency as a response to the potential that live anthrax spores may continue to reside in the lungs of those persons who have concluded their 60-day course of preventive antibiotic treatment. So far, no known cases have developed in individuals who were recently exposed to inhalational anthrax and who were prescribed the 60-day antibiotic course. HHS recommends following the current course of treatment accompanied by careful monitoring for illness; adding an additional 40 days of antibiotic treatment; or adding an additional 40 days of antibiotic treatment plus three doses of anthrax vaccine over a four-week period. Since this is not currently an FDA-approved use of the vaccine, individuals would have to give full informed consent as to possible risks.
  • As of noon today, the Public Health Laboratory of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) had performed testing on a total of 857 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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