Trenton - The Department of Health and Senior Services last evening
presented to the American Postal Workers Union a response plan to
ensure the health and safety of postal employees at the Route 130
Mail Processing Center in Hamilton Township and the West Trenton
Post Office in Ewing Township - by addressing further environmental
testing and decontamination approaches. State Epidemiologist and
Senior Assistant Commissioner Eddy Bresnitz, MD and Senior Assistant
Commissioner for Public Health Protection and Prevention James Blumenstock
represented the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).
response plan was drafted at a meeting held earlier yesterday at
the Hamilton Township facility and included representatives from
the DHSS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Postal
Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
the clinical samples in mind at this time and based on the environmental
sampling results we've received today - in which 13 of the FBI crime
scene samples came back preliminary positive for anthrax, we have
designed collaboratively a response plan that ensures the health
and safety of all the workers," said Dr. Bresnitz. "Our
number one goal is to protect the safety of all workers and then
to get the facilities fully up and running - but only when all environmental
tests are negative after the clean-up work is done."
Dr. Bresnitz summarized for the workers the environmental sampling
to date at both facilities. At the Hamilton Township facility, 13
out of the 23 samples collected by the FBI tested preliminary positive
for anthrax - with final results expected in the near future. All
22 environmental samples taken mostly from public access areas by
the DHSS show no growth thus far for anthrax. Preliminary results
for the West Trenton facility of the crime scene sampling conducted
by the FBI are not yet known. The DHSS and the FBI collected environmental
samples on October 18 from the Hamilton Township facility, and on
October 19 from the West Trenton facility; the FBI samples are crime
his step-by-step presentation, Dr. Bresnitz began by saying there
is still epidemiological information to gather; the DHSS, New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and CDC will do additional
representative environmental sampling today at the Hamilton Township
facility - with preliminary test results within 24 to 36 hours.
When the sampling is done, the Postal Service's contractor will
begin the clean-up process starting with the crime scene area already
sampled by the FBI and working outward. Results of additional environmental
samples will guide further clean-up plans.
Bresnitz said the DHSS and CDC team is preparing to make telephone
calls on Sunday (Oct. 21) to a sampling of workers who had been
selected for nasal swabbing. The DHSS and CDC team will also ask
workers to complete questionnaires. Results of the nasal swabbing
will be provided to the workers by the end of the week.
Bresnitz explained that this group of workers was selected based
on where they work at the facility, with the goal of identifying
a representative sampling of workers from all areas of the facility.
The sampling is done for disease investigation (to see where exposures
might have occurred) and not as a diagnostic test for disease. Many
workers have already received anthrax exposure testing at Robert
Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton; some will be asked
to come in and take another test if contacted by the DHSS and CDC
past Friday (October 19), the DHSS recommended that all postal workers
at the Hamilton Township facility and the West Trenton facility
see a physician and begin a seven-day course of antibiotics as a
precaution while the criminal and health investigation of potential
anthrax exposure and disease at the two facilities progresses.
postal worker from the West Trenton post office has been confirmed
as a definite case of cutaneous anthrax in testing conducted by
the CDC. A second postal worker stationed at the Hamilton Township
facility is considered by the CDC to be a suspect case at this time.
A third postal worker, also from the mail processing center in Hamilton
Township but a resident of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has been
confirmed as a definite case of cutaneous anthrax in testing conducted
by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
to Acting Health and Senior Services Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando,
MD, preliminary skin culture tests were negative as the two New
Jerseyans had been on antibiotics before testing. Blood samples
for both workers and a skin biopsy from one worker were sent to
the CDC for further testing. The skin biopsy was positive for anthrax.
Serum specimens were positive for anthrax in both workers.
October 13, both New Jersey patients' physicians notified the Department
Health and Senior Services (DHSS) after hearing about the cancelled
letter from Trenton that was sent to New York City. They reported
that their patients may have been in contact with the letter received
by Tom Brokaw at NBC-TV. Both patients had been treated with antibiotics
in late September to early October. The DHSS received specimens
from both patients on October 14 and skin cultures were performed
that same day. Blood for antibodies was sent to the CDC also on
October 14. The skin biopsy was delivered to the State laboratory
and examined by the State Medical Examiner on October 16, which
was then sent to the CDC by the FBI later that day. The CDC received
the biopsy specimen on October 17 and reported results to DHSS on
the morning of October 18.
to Secretary of Health Robert S. Zimmerman, the Pennsylvania's resident
anthrax sample was forwarded October 17 from Frankford Hospital
(Bucks County Campus) to the Pennsylvania Department of Health's
Bureau of Laboratories for testing on October 18 where laboratory
tests of the sample detected anthrax bacteria. The patient is also
being treated with antibiotics and is improving.
state laboratory has received over 547 environmental samples, such
as envelopes and packages, collected by law enforcement agencies
from across the state. Testing on 98 of those specimens has been
completed and all are negative for anthrax. In addition, 161 samples
have tested negative in preliminary tests. The lab conducts preliminary
(gram/spore stain) tests and culture tests on environmental samples
and on clinical samples that meet established testing protocols.
Department has established a bioterrorism phone line at the Emergency
Operations Center at 609-538-6030 that is open between 8 am and
11 pm until further notice. Since the phone line opened on October
12, 2001, about 1,500 calls have been received. From 11 p.m. to
8 a.m., the number is 609-392-2020. Information is also available
on the website at www.state.nj.us/health.