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Opening a bacillus anthracis-containing envelope, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: the public health response.
Hsu-VP; Lukacs-SL; Handzel-T; Hayslett-J; Harper-S; Hales-T; Semenova-VA; Romero-Steiner-S; Elie-C; Quinn-CP; Khabbaz-R; Khan-AS; Martin-G; Eisold-J; Schuchat-A; Hajjeh-RA
Emerg Infect Dis 2002 Oct; 8(10):1039-1043
On October 15, 2001, a U.S. Senate staff member opened an envelope containing Bacillus anthracis spores. Chemoprophylaxis was promptly initiated and nasal swabs obtained for all persons in the immediate area. An epidemiologic investigation was conducted to define exposure areas and identify persons who should receive prolonged chemoprophylaxis, based on their exposure risk. Persons immediately exposed to B. anthracis spores were interviewed; records were reviewed to identify additional persons in this area. Persons with positive nasal swabs had repeat swabs and serial serologic evaluation to measure antibodies to B. anthracis protective antigen (anti-PA). A total of 625 persons were identified as requiring prolonged chemoprophylaxis; 28 had positive nasal swabs. Repeat nasal swabs were negative at 7 days; none had developed anti-PA antibodies by 42 days after exposure. Early nasal swab testing is a useful epidemiologic tool to assess risk of exposure to aerosolized B. anthracis. Early, wide chemoprophylaxis may have averted an outbreak of anthrax in this population.
Biological-warfare-agents; Infectious-diseases; Postal-employees; Environmental-contamination; Environmental-exposure; Occupational-exposure; Epidemiology; Disease-incidence; Disease-control; Disease-prevention; Disease-transmission; Inhalants; Inhalation-studies; Aerosols
Issue of Publication
Emerging Infectious Diseases
Page last reviewed: April 12, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division