Acting Commissioner Dr. George DiFerdinando announced that 19 of
the 59 environmental sampling tests taken this past Sunday at the
Route 130 Mail Processing Facility in Hamilton Township by the Department
of Health and Senior Services, New Jersey Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) have tested preliminary positive for anthrax by the State's
Public Health and Environmental Laboratory.
After learning these results, Dr. DiFerdinando said "the Department
of Health and Senior Services and the CDC is considering further
environmental sampling of the facilities in order to protect and
ensure the safety of all workers. Now that a New Jersey postal worker
has a suspected case of inhalational anthrax, we are considering
air and vacuum samples in addition to the swipe samples that have
George DiFerdinando said that now 14 out of the 23 samples collected
by the FBI tested presumptive positive for anthrax at the Hamilton
Township facility - with final results expected in the near future.
All 22 environmental samples taken mostly from public access areas
at the Hamilton Township facility by the Department of Health and
Senior Services (DHSS) show no growth thus far for anthrax.
20 of the 20 environmental samples collected by the FBI from the
West Trenton Post Office in Ewing Township are still negative for
anthrax. The DHSS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation 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 scene samples.
Epidemiologist and Assistant Commissioner Eddy Bresnitz, MD said
that over 600 nasal swabs have been done on postal workers to date
between the DHSS and CDC team and Robert Wood Johnson University
Medical Center at Hamilton. The swabbing is done for disease investigation
(to see where exposures might have occurred) and not as a diagnostic
test for disease.
today, Dr. DiFerdinando announced that one postal worker stationed
at the Route 130 Mail Processing Center in Hamilton Township is
considered by the CDC to be a suspected case of inhalational anthrax.
The patient is in serious but stable condition and receiving antibiotics.
DiFerdinando recommended a 10-day course of antibiotics for all
postal workers the Hamilton Township facility and the West Trenton
facility as a precaution while the criminal and health investigation
of potential exposure and disease progresses to supersede his original
recommendation of a seven-day course of antibiotics. The Acting
Commissioner also recommended that all other workers who might have
come into the workplace areas at the two facilities dating back
to September 18th see a physician and begin a 10-day course of antibiotics.
DiFerdinando urged all postal workers with any recent dermatological
or pulmonary symptoms to see a physician at this time.
Bresnitz 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 supported a suspected positive diagnosis for anthrax from
the CDC. Additional lab results, including blood and serum samples,
are expected from the CDC within a few days.
Bresnitz has informed Postal Service management about the suspected
case and is continuing to meet with employees, management and 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 FBI, the
United States Postal Service, the United States Postal Inspection
Service are all working on this investigation.
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 Dr. DiFerdinando, 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.
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.