UPDATED ANTHRAX GUIDELINES

UPDATED ANTHRAX GUIDELINES



WHAT IS ANTHRAX?

Anthrax is a bacterium that infects mammals. As a bacterium, its infection can be treated effectively with antibiotics. During an infection, these tiny bacterial organisms create and release a toxin ( poison ) that kills body cells. If too many cells die, the human or animal dies. It is a potentially fatal hemorrhagic disease, which means it can result in internal bleeding.

Anthrax is deadly if not treated quickly, but it is NOT contagious ( it does NOT pass from person-to-person like other infections ). An individual can be infected by eating infected meat ( which is very rare ) ; through a break in the skin ( which is even rarer ); or by inhaling its powderlike spores ( highly unlikely ). So under NORMAL cirumstances, one's chances of getting anthrax is very, very slight.

Skin Anthrax

Anthrax is a serious disease that can affect both animals and humans. It is caused by bacteria called Bacillus anthracis. People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides. In its most common form, anthrax is a skin disease that causes skin ulcers and usually fever and fatigue. Up to 20% of these cases are fatal if untreated.

Inhaled Anthrax

When B. anthracis is inhaled, as when used as a biological weapon, it is much more serious. The first symptoms may include a sore throat, mild fever and muscle aches. But within several days these symptoms are followed by severe breathing problems, shock, and often meningitis ( inflammation of the brain and spinal cord covering ). Once symptoms appear, this form of anthrax is almost always fatal, despite treatment with antibiotics.

If an anthrax spore or two lodges in the nostril, experts said, it confirms exposure. It does not mean the person has been infected. Nor does it rule out the chance the person harbors inhaled spores that escaped detection. Only blood and tissue tests can prove the presence of the disease.

The use of nasal swabs is a useful tool to determine the extent of possible exposure in a population, said Dr. Julie Gerberding of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. But she stressed, "You can't just get this infection by contacting an isolated bacterium here or there. You need a big dose" for the deadly inhalation anthrax. A clump of spores can cause the far more treatable skin form of the disease, which occurs when spores enter a cut or scratch.

For inhalation anthrax, a person must breathe in between 2,500 and 55,000 spores of a virulent strain of anthrax to produce the likelihood of an infection, specialists say. Such estimates are based on studies with monkeys, which have shown that about half of the animals exposed to such doses of virulent anthrax spores will contract the disease and die. Inhalation Anthrax, usually lethal within days of development, generally is considered an occupational disorder, a hazard associated among people who work with herd animals or their hides. It is also a disease so rare that fewer than 20 U.S. cases were recorded in the 20th Century.

SYMPTOMS

Initially, symptoms are non-specific and can be mistaken as the flu. The patient has fever, fatigue, a cough and mild chest discomfort. The patient may show brief improvement, but as the infection spreads, hemorrhaging begins and vital functions shut down.

What It Does

Anthrax spores are dormant forms of the bacteria. Like seeds, they only germinate in a fertile environment. If inhaled, larger spores lodge in the upper respiratory tract, where they are less dangerous. But spores between 1 and 5 microns ( 1 micron is a thousand times smaller than a millimeter ) penetrate the alveoli, the tiny sacks in the lung. The immune system responds, destroying some spores but carrying others to the lymph nodes in the chest. The spores germinate. Within one day, or up to 60, anthrax bacteria begin to multiply, infecting chest tissues. At this point, the disease takes off.

Spore Size Key With Anthrax
Smaller particles that can disperse effectively raise risks, experts say

By Earl Lane
WASHINGTON BUREAU

October 20, 2001

Washington - For all the talk in recent days of weapons-grade versus common-variety anthrax, any powder containing anthrax spores carries risk, experts say, and the degree of risk depends on the spread of airborne particles smaller than the dust mites that dance on a sunbeam.

Spores are the dormant form of the anthrax bacteria. They can germinate in tissue, producing new bacteria that release lethal toxins. A pure anthrax preparation could contain as many as a trillion spores per gram, according to Matthew Meselson, a Harvard University microbiologist and specialist on biological warfare. "A gram is like a quarter teaspoonful," Meselson said.

With any virulent strain of anthrax, experts say, the key to its lethality is the size of the spore-laden particles and the effectiveness of their dispersal. A weapon-grade anthrax powder, meant to be readily inhaled through the nostrils and into the lungs, contains particles in the 1 to 5 micron size, experts say. The common dust mite is much larger than that, about 250 to 300 microns in length.

White House Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said that there is no evidence the anthrax samples recovered in Florida, New York and Washington, D.C., were "weaponized" - ground to optimum size and treated with agents to reduce clumping.

However, even powders containing somewhat larger particles can be lofted into the normal air currents of a room, specialists said. It is not surprising, therefore, that anthrax spores could spread readily within a suite of Senate offices, nor that a few spores would be detected in the nostrils of nearly 30 employees who worked in the area where an anthrax-laden letter was opened, they said.

If the letter to Sen. Thomas Daschle's (D-S.D.) office contained only a tenth of a gram of anthrax spores, he said, that could be 100 billion spores. If that were adulterated so that only 1/10 of 1 percent of it consisted of anthrax spores, he said, it still would mean about 100 million spores that potentially could be released. Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax specialist at Louisiana State University, said the anthrax-laden powder delivered to Daschle's office could have been spread through the air simply by the milling around of people in the area where the letter was opened. He said it would be helpful to have studies that can better quantify the movement of such particles. "

Experts said the available evidence suggests that the low-tech delivery of anthrax through the mail does not lead to widespread exposure within the buildings affected.

Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.



( The following excerpts were taken from ‘CM NEWS DAILY’-an electronic news service from ‘Cleaning & Maintenance Management’ and ‘Cleanfax’ magazines, published by National Trade Publications,Inc., Latham, N.Y., copyright, 2000 ) . For more information, please visit: http://www.cmmonline.com/special.asp and click on "News Flash!"
EXCERPTS TAKEN FROM CM CLEANING & MAINTENANCE MANAGEMENT ELECTRONIC PUBLICATIONS BETWEEN 10/16/01-10/26-01.

By Michael McCagg, Managing Editor & 
By Robert Preuss, News Editor


Decontaminating Buildings After ANTHRAX

Anthrax, a bacterium common in livestock, cannot be spread person to person, but can enter the body through a cut, inhalation of the spore or consumption of a contaminated substance such as contaminated meat.

Anthrax — bacillus anthracis- is unusual not only because it is so lethal, but also because it is so tough. According to public health experts, its walls are thick, enabling it to survive in soil for many years, resisting naturally occurring breakdown. Some scientists say the spores — not the active bacteria — survive exposure to ultraviolet light, which is part of those naturally occurring breakdown processes.

Both government and private industry leaders are urging extreme precautionary measures if the presence of ANTHRAX is suspected in any indoor environment.

ANTHRAX cannot withstand chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide treatment and some more innovative solutions have been found to kill it on porous surfaces, fabrics and other hard-to-get-at places. In most cases, the right concentrations of simple disinfectants such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide can kill the bacteria, an EPA official told reporters from MSNBC recently. Special problems: Assessment of contamination; retesting for spores, ensuring that cleanup doesn't have harmful results.

"Microwaves, UV light and ironing …, there is insufficient data and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend these techniques in deactivating anthrax spores," states the CDC's Tim Hensley.

Although compressed air is often used to clean industrial machines and is sometimes used in other cleaning practices, but it it is NOT a wise practice in the wake of the bioterrorism scare. Compressed air, which is also used to clean keyboards, will stir up any dust or, more importantly, biological hazard such as anthrax. Airborne anthrax is also the most fatal version of the germ. That is WHY many companies including the United States Postal Service is immediately halting its practice of using compressed air to clean.

Additionally, proper air filtering may keep an anthrax emission from spreading throughout a facility. Proper filters in heating, ventilation and air condition systems should keep anthrax from circulating throughout a building. Since anthrax spores are . 1 to . 5 microns in size, there is plenty of proper filtration to catch it in that size. HOWEVER, the room the anthrax is released in should be sealed to prevent the highly mobile anthrax spores from circulating through hallways and other means. OF COURSE, THIS INFORMATION STILL PRESENTS THE PROBLEM OF REMOVING THE ANTHRAX FROM THE BUILDING IN THE TRAPPED AIR FILTERS. REMOVAL SHOULD NOT BE ATTEMPTED BY NON-EXPERTS. THE SAFEST BET IS TO LEAVE THE ANTHRAX REMOVAL TASK TO TRAINED, LICENSED HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SPECIALISTS.

Safety experts who advise building owners, manufacturers, etc. on safety related issues, suggest that custodial supervision professionals contact industrial hygienists for advise on respiratory issues. It may be advisable for custodians to use respiratory protection in many circumstances other than those involving bioterrorism.

Sandia National Laboratories, a Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) company located in Albuquerque, NM. which designs all non-nuclear components for our nation's nuclear weapons; performs a wide variety of energy research and development projects; and works on assignments that respond to national security threats — both military and economic; is a national security laboratory operated for the US Department of Energy. It is also researching "electronic noses" — devices which promise to enhance employees and building occupant safety by detecting vapor . Sandia has also developed some of the specialized chemicals being used to decontaminate buildings affected by recent anthrax attacks. An oxidizing foam kills the bacteria but is suitable for soft surfaces bleach would damage. It is made by several firms, including MODEC, a Denver company.

Our most recent concerns over bio-terrorism could also speed up the introduction of a new generation of antibacterial/antiviral products quite unlike potent chemical antiseptics known as "Nano-emulsion chemicals". Simple surfactants -like those used in cleaning and laundry products —have the potential to serve as antibacterial agents. To simplify, that's because some surfactants can prevent the formation of biofilms. Now detergents are being looked at as a defense against anthrax and other possible bacteriological weapons of terrorism. Here, the manufacturing process is critical. Scientists have developed a product, "NanoProtect," made from detergents and vegetable oil at the nano ("one billionth") level — by manipulations of atoms and molecules.Surface tension (again, pertinent to surfactants) of the milky substance produced pulls apart bacteria and virus upon contact. These type of surfactants can be sprayed on various surfaces — from walls and vehicles to clothing —and is safe enough to rub on skin, inhale or even swish around your mouth.

Vaporous formaldehyde is being applied in certain situations, the EPA said.

A sophisticated biocidal agent called ECASOL developed under supervision of the US Marine Corps is also being used. This is regarded as an "environmentally friendly" solution.

Some companies in the Pacific Northwest are developing technology to constantly monitor air for contaminants such as anthrax. Bioaerosol collectors under military contract; and laser technology firm involving a bioparticle sensing device are creating equipment which constantly samples the air with a laser and can provide analysis within 30 minutes. It sounds an alarm and activates a vacuum device if harmful agents are detected.

NSF INTERNATIONAL , a private corporation providing testing for food service cleaning products, displays information on various biotoxins on its Web site at :
http://www.nsf.org/consumer/consumer_biolinks.html


MAILROOM HANDLING GUIDELINES


SACRAMENTO, CA — Health professionals, the FBI, and the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services have released these common-sense steps for mail handling.

The risk of contracting any disease from an envelope is extremely low. General awareness of one's surroundings and suspicious mail is appropriate.

GENERAL PRECAUTIONS FOR THOSE WHO HANDLE MAIL :
( Especially Large Volumes )


— Wash your hands with warm soap and water before and after handling the mail.

— Do not eat, drink or smoke around mail.

— If you have open cuts or skin lesions on your hands, disposable latex gloves may be appropriate.

— Surgical masks, eye protection or gowns are NOT necessary or recommended.

If a letter is received that contains powder or contains a written threat :
1. Do not shake or empty the envelope.

2. Isolate the specific area of the workplace so that no one disturbs the item.

3. Evacuation of the entire workplace is NOT necessary at this point.

4. Have someone call  "911"  and tell them what you received, and what you have done with it. (Law Enforcement should also place a call to the local office of the FBI and tell them the same information.) Indicate whether the envelope contains any visible powder or if powder was released.

5. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for one minute.

6. Do not allow anyone to leave the office that might have touched the envelope.

7. When emergency responders arrive, they will provide further instructions on what to do.

GENERAL PRECAUTIONS FOR THOSE WHO HANDLE PACKAGES

The US Postal Service has identified these signs of packages that should be regarded as suspicious :

— Unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.

— Is addressed to someone no longer with your organization or otherwise, e.g. improper title.

— Bears no return address, or one that can't be verified as legitimate.

— Is of unusual weight, given its size, or be lopsided.

— Is marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "personal" or "confidential." — Exhibits protruding wires, strange odors or stains.

— Exhibits a city or state in the postmark that doesn't match the return address.

If Such a Suspicious Mailing Arrives, Government Military Source Are Advising :

— Do not try to open the parcel, as they are usually designed to withstand handling while in the mail, and to explode when opened or when an item is removed.

— Isolate the parcel.

— Evacuate the immediate area.

— Call police.

IMPORTANT:

— Do not panic.

— Do not walk around with the letter/package or shake it.

— Do not merely discard the letter/package.



CASE STUDIES
IN ANTHRAX PANIC, FEARS, & CONCERNS :

In Watertown, WI, a 40-year-old man sought emergency room treatment after experiencing cold and flu-like symptoms for the past week after receiving a "white substance" in the mail. He was treated with Cyprio, an antibiotic recommended by the Center for Disease Control as an anthrax treatment.

The Detroit News reported various scares.
"Across Metro Detroit and the country, people are seeing poison everywhere," the paper reported.
— In one case, a woman called police Wednesday morning after receiving a Spiegel catalog with white powder inside.
— A UPS package with brown powder was received by another area resident. It turned out the package contained auto parts ordered by her husband.
— A realty company office assistant was frightened by a lump of white powder in the office lobby. "Was it carpet cleaner? Sugar? Or anthrax?" the Detroit News asked. There were other incidents that result in closings of factories, offices and stores.

A cleaning service operator in Palm Beach Co., FL, noted that employees were "spooked" after a customer said she received a mysterious envelope containing a powder that was sent for testing and was subsequently "hosed down" after summoning hazmat and FBI officials.

A variety of reports emerged this week on new discoveries of anthrax — which has shut down the US Congress — threats and suspected cases :
Here are some examples: In Fresno, CA, so many calls were reported that when a custodian at Robinson Elementary School reported a powdery substance in the staff parking lot Monday morning, no haz-mat teams were available to answer the call. One team was at a Gap warehouse where a worker had noticed a "chalky dust" on boxes originating in Russia. Another team was cleaning a powder from the floor of a neighborhood post office, according to the Fresno Bee newspaper.

Stony Brook elementary school, in Rockaway Township, NJ, was evacuated Monday after a custodian discovered a "white powdery substance" on the outside of the front door. The material was taken for testing, according to the Morris Co. Daily Record.
IN SUMMARY :
Government and private industry leaders are urging these precautionary measures in the event of any suspicious or potentially dangerous situations :

— DO NOT PANIC.
— USE COMMON SENSE
— DO NOT DISCARD THE SOURCE
— ISOLATE THE SOURCE.
— EVACUATE THE IMMEDIATE AREA.
— DO NOT WALK AROUND INTO UNNECESSARY EXTENDED AREAS
— CALL POLICE AT "911"

Although the threat of bio-terrorism is potentially "real", our response is fortunately personally manageable IF cool heads prevail.


All Content Copyright 2001
National Trade Publications Inc.


Q&A : About ANTHRAX

From Newsday Staff Reports

Question :Are we OVERREACTING to the anthrax scare ?
u>Answer :YES...we are overreacting somewhat. But overreacting to a new and scary threat is NOT unusual, especially if we don't really know how big the danger is. Also FEAR is a very powerful force that can spur overreaction. In fact, sometimes the FEAR and the STRESS which it creates is more threatening than the odd chance that you contract the disease itself.

Question : What is anthrax?
Answer : Anthrax is a potentially fatal hemorrhagic disease, which means it can result in internal bleeding. It is caused by Bacillus anthracis, a hardy rod-shaped bacterium. It gets its name from the Greek word for coal because of the black scab it causes in the skin form of the disease.

Question : What are the anthrax spores we keep reading about?
Answer : To survive during harsh conditions, the bacterium forms a hardy spore which contains the ingredients to make a new bacterium. The spores can remain viable in a dormant phase in soil or infected animal products such as hides and bone meal for decades. When conditions improve, the spore germinates to form a new bacterium. If animals or humans become infected with spores, allowing them to germinate, that sets off a chain of events that leads to the release of toxins. It is these toxins that cause illness or death.

Question :How do you get anthrax?
Answer :Anthrax infection can be acquired after contact with infected animals -- generally sheep, goats, horses or cows -- contaminated animal products or after the intentional release of anthrax spores into the air or placement in powders. There are three ways to get anthrax: through cuts or scrapes in the skin, called "cutaneously," by inhaling it or by ingesting it. Ingested anthrax is rare in humans and is contracted by eating insufficiently cooked meat from infected animals. Inhaled anthrax occurs when someone inhales the spores. The death rate from untreated inhaled anthrax is 90 to 100 percent; with treatment by antibiotics the fatality rate is 75 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Death from untreated skin anthrax occurs in about 20 percent of cases and in 1 percent of cases treated with antibiotics. Untreated gastrointestinal anthrax causes death in 25 to 60 percent of cases; the percentage of deaths after treatment is unknown, according to the CDC.

Question :How long after exposure do you show signs of the disease?
Answer :Incubation is generally one to six days, although it can be up to 60 days, depending on the dose and strain of the bacteria.

Question :What are the symptoms of inhalational anthrax?
Answer :They are gradual and nonspecific. The person may have a fever, feel tired and may have a dry cough. That is usually followed by a period -- which can last hours or up to two to three days -- in which the person feels better. That abruptly changes and the person develops severe trouble breathing as the lungs begin bleeding. Death can follow 24 to 36 hours later.

Question :What does the skin type of anthrax look like?
Answer :Cutaneous anthrax occurs most frequently on the hands and forearms, causing a red spot that develops fluid and then dries to a coal-black scab.

Question :Is anthrax contagious?
Answer :No. It is contracted by direct exposure to active spores. It is not passed person to person.

Question :If somebody comes in contact with anthrax through a ventilation system or contaminated mail, couldn't that person pass on the spores to someone else?
Answer :Theoretically you could carry spores on your clothes, said Dr. Joseph Waeckerle, editor in chief of the Annals of Emergency Medicine and an expert in bioterrorism. However, you would have to be heavily contaminated and then shake your clothes hard to get the spores into the air so they could be breathed in, he said. To get pulmonary anthrax, someone has to inhale at least 8,000 to 40,000 spores, according to the CDC. It takes fewer spores to cause cutaneous anthrax. But Dr. Roy Steigbigel, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Stony Brook University Hospital, pointed out they have to enter through a cut or scratch.

Question :Where can anthrax be obtained?
Answer :The bacterium that causes anthrax, Bacillus anthracis, exists naturally in soil throughout the world, especially in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In the United States, anthrax spores are common in rural Texas, Oklahoma and the Mississippi Valley and can contaminate goat and other animal hides.Genetic changes made in the laboratory can also create new strains of Bacillus anthracis. Some of these changes occur naturally through mutation, but most are engineered by scientists by adding or deleting DNA. More than 1,200 strains of Bacillus anthracis have been catalogued by Paul Jackson at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who has been identifying an average of two new strains every week. Many of the strains exist in universities, commercial laboratories, government laboratories, and at least 46 germ banks worldwide.

Question :Are there regulations on who can obtain anthrax?
Answer :In 1997, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented tough new regulations on anthrax and other hazardous agents stored and shipped in the United States. Most other countries have far less rigid controls over their own supplies, however.

Question :What is the treatment?
Answer :The preferred antibiotic, ciprofloxacin hydrochloride -- brand name Cipro -- is prescribed for 60 days. Doxycycline, also called tetracycline, can also be prescribed for 60 days. Penicillin can also be used.

Question :What is "weaponized" anthrax?
Answer :For anthrax to be effective as a biological weapon on a large scale, it has to be aerosolized into very small particles, a process that experts say requires technical skill and special equipment. "It's very hard to weaponize," said Waeckerle. "You have to mix them up in a certain manner and make sure you have the right-sized particle and that they don't clump together."

Question :If you come into contact with a suspicious letter or package, what should you do?
Answer :This is what the CDC recommends: Don't shake or empty the contents; don't try to clean up powders or fluids. Place the envelope in a plastic bag or container. If you don't have a bag, cover it and don't remove the cover. Leave the room and close the door or section off the area to prevent others from entering. Wash your hands with soap and water for five to 10 minutes. Report the incident to local police; notify your building security officer. List all the people who were in the room. Remove contaminated clothing and place them in a plastic bag that can be sealed and give to law enforcement personnel. Shower with soap and water as soon as possible. Do not use bleach or disinfectant on your skin.

Question :What about the vaccine?
Answer :The United States has a vaccine. However, it is available only for use by military personnel and is controversial. The one company that makes it has not been able to pass inspection by the Food and Drug Administration and it's not known how effective it is against inhaled anthrax.

Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.

HEALTH MATTERS

ANTHRAX : Sumptoms, Spores, Spread--and Safeguards
By Ridgely Ochs

Question :The first signs of anthrax are flulike symptoms. Does that mean if you start having chest pains and a runny nose that you might be infected ?
Answer :Flulike symptoms are the first signs of inhalational anthrax, the most severe form. Early symptoms can include fever, cough, headache, difficulty breathing, vomiting, chills, weakness, abdominal and chest pain. Experts admit that it can be hard to diagnose between a case of anthrax and the flu without performing more tests.

But, doctors claim that one way that you can reduce your risk of getting flulike symptoms is to get a flu shot. Flu kills many more people each year than anthrax. And, doctors claim that unless you're in a high profile place where you are likely to exposed to anthrax, it is unlikely that you will come into contact with it.

CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY IF ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS ARE A CONCERN TO YOU !

Question :Although anthrax is supposedly not contagious from one individual to another, isn't it possible to brush up against somebody who's been exposed, pick up spores, and become infected .
Answer :Experts state that this scenario is HIGHLY UNLIKELY . Although it is conceivably possible, you require a high level of exposure to spores in order to get sick from a practical view. One spore will NOT get you sick.

' The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention ' states that you need to inhale 8,000 - 40,000 spores to get inhalation anthrax. You need fewer to get cutaneous anthrax ( the skin form ) but, those spores have to invade a cut or scratch. It's not very likely you would pick up that many spores brushing next to someone.

Question :If spores are puffed into the air, how far can they spread ?
Answer :According to Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology at New York University and Mt. Sinai Hosopitals in Manhattan; and author of "The Secret Life of Germs" the spread of anthrax depends on how many spores there are and the size of the particles. "The bigger the particle, the quicker they fall to the ground." Natural anthrax weighs between 1 and 10 microns, according to studies. The very large spores are apt to fall to the ground ; the smallest are immediately blown out of your nose or mouth ( the size most dangerous to humans is between 5 and 10 microns-small enough to be carried on the air and large enough to become lodged in the lungs ).

Question :If you don't think that you've been exposed but want to protect yourself, what can you do ?
Answer :A GOOD HAND-WASHING will get rid of a high percentage of spores-or most other germs. Dr Tierno states that you MUST wash your hands for 45 seconds with warm water and soap-using lots of suds and paying close attention to your knucles and nail beds. Rinse your hands with fresh water and rewash your hands the same way for another 45 seconds.

Question :How can you decontaminate your house ( or mail ).
Answer :Use common household bleach, diluting it to a 9:1 ( water to bleach ) solution (or the safer alternative : undiluted store-bought 4 % solution of hydrogen peroxide ) . Wipe and leave it on a hard surface for 10-15 minutes. For more absorbent materials, like mail, you may with to damp wipe solution 2-3 times. BE AWARE THAT BLEACH WILL WHITEN ANY ABSORBENT MATERIAL. Wear rubber gloves during this process. Don't use bleach directly onto skin; it can cause severe burning. The spores lose their disease-causing ability at about 150 degrees F.---which is lower than the boiling point of water's 212 degrees F. So, you can also heat or boil ( safe, heat-resistant ) objects to kill spores .

Question :What about microwaving or steam ironing mail ?
Answer :You can microwave mail BUT as microwaving doesn't evenly heat food; so microwaving mail may not evenly reach all parts of a letter. Steam-ironing could theoretically kill spores but if the letter contains a plastic window, steam may melt it raising the possibility of spore dispersal instead of containment. Neither method is advised.

Question :Wearing a gas mask to protect yourself may not make sense, but what about gloves and a surgical mask ?
Regular rubber or medical gloves and an appropriate respiratory mask with a HEPA filter ( NOT A SURGICAL MASK ) which is properly "fit-tested" ( that is, someone has to ensure that the mask effectively seals the person's airways ) CAN block spores. Unfortunately, you would have to wear these gloves and respiratory mask constantly for them to be effective.

Question :Does a person's age affect the susceptability to infection.
Answer :YES...the older you are, the more susceptible you are to infection. And... the younger you are, the more spores it will take to give you inhalation anthrax.

Question :Spores can exist naturally in the ground. Can I get anthrax gardening ?
Answer :The spores would exist only in those areas where there have been anthrax-infected animals or animal by-products. In soil, Bacillus Anthrasis is a rectangular organism that under a microscope looks like "boxcars" connected in a long train. The bacteria used in the attack on Senate Majority Lead Tom Daschle ( D-S.D. ) was pulverized to be more readily inhaled. When pulverized, the "boxcars" are broken apart, leaving small spores capable of lodging in the lungs of the host. Small spores of highly virulent strains require fewer bacteria to cause inhalation anthrax. Only 224 cases of cutaneous anthrax were reported from 1944 to 1994 in this country-most of them associated with exposure to anthrax-infected animals. Before these recent, deliberate incidents, no case of inhalation anthrax had been reported in this country since 1978. To be thoroughly safe, wear gardening gloves and wash your hands afterwards.

SUSPECTED ANTHRAX LOCAL HELP-LINES

Your Local City , Town or County's Department of Health
Your Local City or Town's Poison Control Center
Closest FBI Field Office
Your State's Health Department, Bureau of Communicable Disease Control
Your Local Police--DIAL "911"