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October 30, 2001/6:00 PM, ET
CDC Update for Ongoing Anthrax Investigations
CDC confirmed cases of anthrax
Summary of Local, State, and Federal Confirmed Human Cases and Exposures
CDC confirmed cases are based on a rigorous case definition which was published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on October 19, 2001. The MMWR is available on-line at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5041a1.htm.
CDC defines a confirmed case of anthrax as 1) a clinically compatible case of cutaneous, inhalational, or gastrointestinal illness that is laboratory confirmed by isolation of B. anthracis from an affected tissue or site or 2) other laboratory evidence of B. anthracis infection based on at least two supportive laboratory tests. CDC defines a suspect case as 1) a clinically compatible case of illness without isolation of B. anthracis and no alternative diagnosis, but with laboratory evidence of B. anthracis by one supportive laboratory test or 2) a clinically compatible case of anthrax epidemiologically linked to a confirmed environmental exposure, but without corroborative laboratory evidence of B. anthracis infection.
New York case confirmed
A case of inhalational anthrax has been confirmed by the New York City Department of Health. The individual works in the stockroom of a hospital in Manhattan and occasionally works in the hospital's mailroom. Diagnostic tests have confirmed this case of inhalational anthrax.
Additional information about the case is available from the New York City Department of Health web site at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/public/press01/pr1001029.html, or by contacting the Department of Health's Media Relations Office at (212) 295-5335.
Mail handling tips for the home or office
While it is not possible to eliminate the risk of anthrax, the risk to the general public is low and can be further reduced by being alert for suspicious packages and by handwashing after opening the mail. Heightened public health surveillance continues and has been intensified so that anthrax can be promptly recognized and treated.
While the risk is considered to be very low to individuals from possible contamination in the mail, people should continue to be alert for suspicious mail.
Mail might be considered suspicious if it is:
Dos and Don'ts for suspicious letters:
Cutaneous anthrax is a boil-like skin lesion that eventually forms an ulcer with a black center or crust (similar in appearance to some spider bites).
The cutaneous form of anthrax responds well to antibiotics if treatment is started soon after symptoms appear, such as in this case.
Individuals should, especially in areas that have been directly affected, review and be familiar with advice provided to all postal patrons by the US Postal Service and follow that advice.
This page last reviewed October 30, 2001