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Multigeneration cross contamination of mail with Bacillus species spores by tumbling.
Edmonds-J; Clark-P; Williams-L; Lindquist-HD; Martinez-K; Gardner-W; Shadomy-S; Hornsby-Myers-J
Appl Environ Microbiol 2010 Jul; 76(14):4797-4804
In 2001, envelopes loaded with Bacillus anthracis spores were mailed to Senators Daschle and Leahy as well as to the New York Post and NBC News buildings. Additional letters may have been mailed to other news agencies because there was confirmed anthrax infection of employees at these locations. These events heightened the awareness of the lack of understanding of the mechanism(s) by which objects contaminated with a biological agent might spread disease. This understanding is crucial for the estimation of the potential for exposure to ensure the appropriate response in the event of future attacks. In this study, equipment to simulate interactions between envelopes and procedures to analyze the spread of spores from a "payload" envelope (i.e., loaded internally with a powdered spore preparation) onto neighboring envelopes were developed. Another process to determine whether an aerosol could be generated by opening contaminated envelopes was developed. Subsequent generations of contaminated envelopes originating from a single payload envelope showed a consistent two-log decrease in the number of spores transferred from one generation to the next. Opening a tertiary contaminated envelope resulted in an aerosol containing 10(3) B. anthracis spores. We developed a procedure for sampling contaminated letters by a nondestructive method aimed at providing information useful for consequence management while preserving the integrity of objects contaminated during the incident and preserving evidence for law enforcement agencies.
Bacteria; Bacterial-dusts; Bacterial-disease; Microorganisms; Analytical-processes; Aerosols
Jason Edmonds, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, United States Army, Department of Defense, 5183 Blackhawk Road, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21010
Issue of Publication
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
MD; OH; GA
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division