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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   October 25, 2001

George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Marily Riley
(609) 984-7160


Department of Health and Senior Services Extends Antibiotic Treatment

Acting Commissioner Dr. George T. DiFerdinando, Jr. has determined that workers at the Route 130 Mail Processing Facility in Hamilton Township facility and the West Trenton facility in Ewing Township as well as business visitors to the facilities should receive extended antibiotic treatment from 10- to 60-days.

"I am extending the treatment course of antibiotics because it is the prudent thing to do," said Dr. DiFerdinando. "Although it has been my position not to prescribe medication for medication's sake, protection of the postal workers who have been exposed to anthrax is the most important consideration."

Dr. DiFerdinando recommends a 60-day course of antibiotics for all Hamilton Township and West Trenton postal workers and business visitors who might have come into the workplace areas dating back to September 18th. Business visitors include temporary postal workers, vendors, and contractors. Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center is providing the postal workers at Hamilton with the additional antibiotics.
Dr. DiFerdinando also announced that there is a second possible inhalational case involving a worker at the Route 130 Mail Processing Center in Hamilton Township. Specimens were sent today to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

More than 1,100 people have received the nasal swab tests from DHSS, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center-Hamilton. To date, more than 800 swabs are negative. Others are still being evaluated. Workers who received swabs over the weekend will receive results in the next few days. The swab tests will be used to see where exposures might have occurred in the facility. A negative swab test does not mean that a person has not been exposed to anthrax and Dr. DiFerdinando urged everyone who receives negative test results to continue antibiotic treatment.

As of today, the state laboratory has received more than 1,007 environmental samples, such as envelopes and packages, collected by law enforcement agencies from across the state. Testing on 553 of those specimens has been completed and all are negative for anthrax.

The 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.


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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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