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How to Handle Anthrax and Other Biological Agent Threats

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2001
3 pages
This Health Advisory from the Centers for Disease Control discusses how to handle anthrax and other biologic agent threats.
After exposure to the anthrax spores, disease can be prevented by early treatment with the appropriate antibiotics. Anthrax is not spread from one person to another. For anthrax to be effective as a covert agent, it must be aerosolized into very small particles. This is difficult to do, and requires a great deal of technical skill and special equipment. If these small particles are inhaled, a life-threatening lung infection can occur, but prompt recognition and treatment are effective. The paper advises that, upon receiving a suspicious unopened letter or package marked with threatening words, it is important not to shake or empty the contents. Place the envelope or package in a plastic bag or other container to prevent leakage. Along with additional advice on handling a suspicious envelope or package, the paper describes what to do if powder spills out onto a surface. It also discusses what to do if a room is contaminated by aerosolization, and how to identify suspicious packages and letters.