Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando, MD today announced that one
postal worker stationed at the Route 130 Mail Processing Center
in Hamilton Township is considered by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (DCD) to be a suspected case of inhalational anthrax.
The patient is in stable condition and receiving antibiotics.
Friday, I recommended that all postal workers in the Hamilton Township
facility and the West Trenton facility see their physicians and
begin a seven-day course of antibiotics as a precaution while the
criminal and health investigation of potential exposure and disease
progresses. "Today, I am recommending a 10-day course
of antibiotics and urge all those workers who haven't yet seen a
doctor for a 10-day supply of antibiotics - to do so - and for those
others to begin or keep taking it and get an additional supply."
DiFerdinando also urged all postal workers with any recent dermatological
or pulmonary symptoms to see a physician at this time.
Epidemiologist and Assistant Commissioner Eddy Bresnitz, MD explained
the postal worker was admitted to the hospital on Friday, October
19. The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the
CDC were notified of the patient's condition over the weekend. The
patient presented with respiratory symptoms and initial tests for
anthrax in the hospital were negative. Subsequent tests were reported
suspected positive from the CDC. Additional lab results, including
blood and serum samples, are expected from the CDC within a few
Bresnitz has informed Postal Service management about the suspected
case and is continuing to meet with employees and their union leadership
to provide information.
to Dr. Bresnitz, the DHSS and CDC team are working with hospitals,
laboratories and private physicians in New Jersey and Pennsylvania
to identify any potential cases. CDC and DHSS investigators are
also reviewing employee absentee records as part of their active
team consisting of representatives from DHSS, CDC, the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI), the United States Postal Service, and the
United States Postal Inspection Service are all working on this
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 suspected 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
of 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.
of this morning, the state laboratory has received over 886 environmental
samples, such as envelopes and packages, collected by law enforcement
agencies from across the state. Testing on 272 of those specimens
has been completed and all are negative for anthrax. In addition,
279 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.