CDC Public Guidelines
for Responding to Anthrax Threats
Revised October 14, 2001
I. Advice to the Public
How To Handle Anthrax and Other Biological Agent
Many facilities in communities around the country have received anthrax threat
letters. Most were empty envelopes; some have contained powdery substances. The
purpose of these guidelines is to recommend procedures for handling such
DO NOT PANIC
- Anthrax organisms can cause infection in the skin,
gastrointestinal system, or the lungs. To do, so the organism must be rubbed
into abraded skin, swallowed, or inhaled as a fine, aerosolized mist. Disease
can be prevented after exposure to the anthrax spores 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, life-threatening lung infection can occur, but prompt recognition
and treatment are effective.
Suspicious Letter or Package
- Do not shake or empty the contents of any suspicious
envelope or package; DO NOT try to clean up powders or fluids..
- PLACE the envelope or package in a plastic bag or some
other type of container to prevent leakage of contents.
- If you do not have any container, then COVER the
envelope or package with anything (e.g., clothing, paper, trash can, etc.) and
do not remove this cover.
- Then LEAVE the room and CLOSE the door, or section off
the area to prevent others from entering (i.e., keep others away).
- WASH your hands with soap and water to prevent
spreading any powder to your face or skin.
- What to do next
If you are at HOME, then
report the incident to local police.
· If you are at WORK, then report the incident to local
police, and notify your
· building security official or an available supervisor.
- If possible, LIST all people who were in the room or
area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized. Give this list to
both the local public health authorities and law enforcement officials for
follow-up investigations and advice.
- Remove heavily contaminated clothing and place in a
plastic bag that can be sealed; give the bag to law enforcement personnel.
- Shower with soap and water as soon as possible. Do not
use bleach or disinfectant on your skin.