Interim Guidelines for the Management of
"Anthrax Contaminated" Parcels
"The Bureau of Epidemiology developed the following guidelines for
county health departments and other constituents in response to requests for
information regarding the proper handling of suspicious packages".
Individuals around the state and nation have received letters
alleged to contain anthrax. While no single recommendation can cover all
circumstances, the following recommendations should apply to most situations:
Letters or packages that may possibly contain anthrax or
another hazardous substance are of concern to both public health and law
Individuals who are concerned that they may have been exposed
to anthrax or another unknown agent should be assured that the Department of
Health takes these threats seriously and that while hundreds of such threats
have been received in the United States none have contained an infectious agent
such as anthrax.
The typical response should be:
A. The letter or package should be left alone and the
individual in contact with the letter should leave the vicinity and contact
law enforcement. Others should also leave the immediate vicinity of the
B. The letter or package should be collected by law
enforcement for forensic evidence. Testing can be conducted at the state
laboratory in Tampa, Jacksonville, or Miami. The Department of Agriculture
laboratory in Kissimmee is also a resource. The result of the testing will
be available in time to determine what, if any, treatment should be
C. The individual (s) who open or have contact with the
letter or package that contains an unknown substance should thoroughly wash
their hands with soap and water. Persons who have more extensive contact
with an unknown substance should shower and place their clothing in a sealed
plastic bag. Do not remove clothing from the bag until the results are
available to guide cleaning requirements.
D. There is no need for any decontamination of
individuals who have not had direct contact with the letter or package that
contains an unknown substance.
E. Testing of individuals exposed to an unknown substance
for an infectious agent by use of nasal swabs or blood test is not
F. Prophylactic antibiotic treatment should be based on
the results of the laboratory testing of the letter or package that contains
an unknown substance. There is no need to start antibiotics prior to the
analysis of the letter or package.
G. Contact information of all individuals that may have
been exposed should be collected ASAP. These individuals should be reassured
that they will be contacted as soon as results are known.
Questions concerning the handling of individuals exposed to
threatening letters or packages that may contain anthrax or other biological
agents should be directed to the local county health department. The Department
of Heath, Bureau of Epidemiology, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for
consultation at the main number (850-245-4401 or SunCom 205-4401).
The CDC published interim guidelines for the management of bioterrorism
alleging the use of anthrax in the February 05, 1999 issue of the MMWR.
A copy can be obtained at the following www site. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm4804.pdf