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Mail Package Handling Information

November 9, 2001

Interim Guidelines
For Minimizing Risk From Cutaneous Anthrax

For Mail Handlers In Office Environments, Mail Sorting And Opening Areas And Facilities Sorting Small Volumes Of Mail

This document provides interim recommendations for workers handling mail in office environments and facilities sorting small volumes of mail in state, county and local public facilities.

A program to reduce skin exposure to B. anthracis spores may decrease the risk of cutaneous anthrax. These interim recommendations are based on the limited information available on ways to avoid infection and the effectiveness of various prevention strategies. These recommendations will be updated as new information becomes available.

Personal Protective Equipment


  • Protective gloves will be available to all workers handling mail (e.g., envelopes and packages).

  • Different gloves or layers of gloves may be needed depending on the task, the dexterity required and the type of protection needed. In some cases, workers may need to wear cotton gloves under impermeable gloves for comfort and to prevent dermatitis. Skin rashes and other dermatological conditions are a potential hazard of wearing gloves.

  • Gloves will be provided in a range of sizes to ensure proper fit.

  • The choice of glove material (e.g., powder-free nitrile, vinyl) will be based on safety, fit, durability and comfort.

  • Latex gloves should Not be worn because of the risk of developing skin sensitivity or allergy.

  • Care must be taken to avoid touching skin, eyes, or other mucous membranes since contaminated gloves may transfer B. anthracis spores to other body sites.

  • Gloves should be discarded if they are visibly torn or damaged.

  • Hands should be thoroughly washed with soap and water when gloves are removed, before eating and when replacing torn or worn gloves. Soap and water will wash away most spores that my have contacted the skin. Disinfectant solutions are not needed. Do not rely on alcohol-based hand cleaners, as these cleaners will not remove spores as well as soap and water.

  • Used or torn gloves can be discarded in regular trash.

How to Recognize and Handle a Suspicious Package or Envelope

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