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October 25, 2001/12:00 PM, ET
Contact: CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Press Release

CDC Update: MMWR update, postal worker guidelines, flu vaccine, telebriefing, investigation updates (Florida and New Jersey)

MMWR Update

The October 26, 2001 edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) includes the article, "Update: Investigation of Bioterrorism-Related Anthrax and Interim Guidelines for Exposure Management and Antimicrobial Therapy, October 2001." As of October 24, investigations in the District of Columbia (DC), Florida, New Jersey, New York City (NYC), Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have identified 15 (11 confirmed and four suspected) cases of anthrax - including 3 deaths - according to the CDC surveillance case definition.

The full-report is available online at

Guidelines for postal workers

"Interim Recommendations for Protecting Mail Handlers from Cutaneous and Inhalational Anthrax Associated with Intentional Distribution of Bacillus anthracis through the Mail" is available online at

Flu shots and anthrax illness

Q: Does CDC recommend getting an influenza immunization (flu shot) to reduce the number of flu-like illnesses that may raise concerns about possible anthrax-related illness?

A: No. CDC does not recommend that influenza vaccination be considered as a way to avoid confusing influenza disease with suspected anthrax illness. Influenza vaccine is the primary means to prevent influenza and its severe complications, including pneumonia, hospitalization and death. Complications most often occur among persons >65 years and among persons <65 years who have certain medical conditions. (

Many other infectious agents (including anthrax) can cause illnesses that begin with flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches, and headaches). Most flu-like illnesses are not caused by influenza (or anthrax). The flu shot can prevent 70-90%, but not all, influenza infections. The vaccine does not prevent flu-like illness caused by agents other than influenza.

Influenza vaccine should be targeted toward groups that are at increased risk of complications and toward health care workers. CDC recommends that these groups be prioritized for vaccine available in October and that efforts to vaccinate these groups continue throughout the influenza season. Lower influenza vaccine coverage of high risk persons could lead to an increase in influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths. Receipt of influenza vaccine in November and later is encouraged for those who live with high-risk persons, for healthy people aged 50-64 years, and for others who wish to reduce their chances of getting influenza.

Telebriefing: Anthrax investigations

Interactive media teleconference. Dr. Koplan will discuss current information about CDC's response to anthrax investigations. Brief remarks followed by media Q/A. Following Dr. Koplan will be Dr. Gerberding who will discuss the MMWR Anthrax Update. The telebriefing will take place TODAY, Thursday, October 25, 2001, 12 Noon - 1:30 PM ET via toll-free conference line: Dial (800) 288-8968; Teleconference name, CDC/anthrax.

Investigation Updates: Florida and New Jersey

Florida - Testing of samples taken from small non-public mail processing areas of the Greenacres postal facility were presumed positive for miniscule amounts of anthrax spores. The testing has been completed and all areas have been cleaned, re-tested, and are now negative for the presence of spores. CDC, the Florida Department of Health and Palm Beach County Health Department are not recommending antibiotic treatment. However, antibiotics will be made available to postal workers, associated with AMI mail, on a case-by-case basis for those requesting antibiotic treatment.

New Jersey- Postal workers at the Carteret Postal Facility begin a 10-day course of antibiotics as a precaution while the criminal and health investigation of anthrax continues. Carteret is the receiving station for mail coming from the Route 130 mail processing facility in Hamilton Township to Washington, D.C. and New York. Approximately 100 full-time and temporary workers are employed at Carteret.

For the latest update on CDC activities and on-going anthrax investigations visit or

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This page last reviewed October 25, 2001

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