CDC Issues Anthrax Mail Guidelines

Thursday, December 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines Thursday for people concerned they may contract anthrax from contaminated mail, though the agency stressed the risk is ``very low.''

The CDC said people concerned about exposure can keep mail away from their faces when they open it, avoid blowing or sniffing the contents, avoid tearing or shredding the mail before throwing it away, and frequently wash their hands.

Simply not opening mail that appears suspicious is also an option, as is throwing away the envelopes, the CDC said.

The guidelines appeared in the agency's weekly health bulletin.

CDC director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan has said tens of thousands of pieces of mail may be cross-contaminated _ tainted by wayward spores from anthrax-filled letters sent to Washington and New York.

Koplan has also said the risk of infection from cross-contamination is extremely low, a caution that was repeated in the health bulletin.

The mail-handling guidelines issued Thursday are similar to advice that health officials have been giving since soon after the anthrax-by-mail scare began in October.

Investigators are trying to determine whether cross-contamination may be to blame for the inhalation anthrax that killed a 94-year-old Connecticut woman last month and a 61-year-old New York woman in October.