Letter to Physicians
The following is a sample letter prepared by the Bureau of
Epidemiology that county health departments may use to inform providers about
testing for anthraxand in particular the appropriateness of nasal swabs.
Following the death from inhalational anthrax of a
63-year-old Palm Beach County resident, many physicians have received inquiries
from patients who want to be tested and/or given prophylaxis for anthrax. Many
patients and physicians have asked about the use of nasal swabs for testing.
Nasal swabs are not considered an appropriate screening test
for anthrax and are not recommended by the Department of Health. Nasal swabs
currently are being used ONLY in the epidemiological investigation of persons
who worked in or visited the AMI Building (5401 NW Broken Sound Blvd., Boca
Raton, FL 33487). Testing for that group is being managed by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention and the Palm Beach County Health Department.
The Department of Health and the CDC are continuing to
investigate the AMI exposure and have intensive surveillance for additional
cases in place throughout Florida. There is no indication that the general
public is at risk for anthrax. Prophylactic antibiotics are indicated ONLY for
persons who were in the AMI building for a period of at least one hour after
August 1, 2001. Prophylactic antibiotics are not appropriate for the general
Physicians who see asymptomatic patients, who do not have
confirmed exposure, should reassure them that they are not at risk. Information
on anthrax for both physicians and the general public is available at the CDC
website, www.cdc.gov, under "health topics A-Z"
Physicians who want to rule out anthrax in patients with
appropriate symptoms should use standard diagnostic procedures, which would
include chest X-rays and blood cultures. A physician who has a high index of
suspicion about a particular patient should contact his/her local health
department, in accordance with standard requirements for reportable diseases.
For further information, contact either your local health
department or the Florida Department of Health (850-245-4401).