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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   November 5, 2001

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

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Dennis McGowan
(609) 984-7160

Anthrax Investigation Update in New Jersey

[Note to Press: Any updates are in bold.]

COMMISSIONER'S MESSAGE

"Now that all DHSS, CDC and FBI environmental samples collected in the West Trenton Post Office and areas outside the facility have come back negative for anthrax, we are recommending that all West Trenton postal employees can stop taking the 60-days of prophylactic antibiotics they had been prescribed earlier in this outbreak," said Health and Senior Services Acting Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD.

"We are likewise recommending that those employees of the Princeton Main Post Office who chose to take prophylactic antibiotics can now stop taking them," he added. "Employees with continuing health concerns should contact their personal health care provider, or the occupational health services available to postal employees."

HUMAN TESTING RESULTS

Following is an update on the condition of persons suspected or confirmed with anthrax: Note that the CDC defines a confirmed case of anthrax as 1) a clinically compatible case of cutaneous, inhalational, or gastrointestinal illness that is laboratory confirmed by isolation of B. anthracis from an affected tissue or site or 2) other laboratory evidence of B. anthracis infection based on at least two supportive laboratory tests. A suspected case is defined as 1) a clinically compatible case of illness without isolation of
B. anthracis and no alternative diagnosis, but with laboratory evidence of B. anthracis by one supportive laboratory test or 2) a clinically compatible case of anthrax epidemiologically linked to a confirmed environmental exposure, but without corroborative laboratory evidence of B. anthracis infection.

Patients Patient Status Conditions
Delaware resident who works at the Bellmawr Mail Distribution Center Listed as a Suspected Cutaneous case by CDC on Oct. 31 Recovered
Kuser Road (Hamilton) office worker Confirmed Cutaneous case by CDC on Oct 29 Released from hospital and recovering
West Trenton Postal worker Confirmed Cutaneous case by CDC on Oct. 18 Recovered
Route 130 Hamilton Mail Processing Facility worker Listed as Suspected Cutaneous case by CDC on Oct. 18 Recovered
Route 130 Hamilton Mail Processing Facility worker Listed as Confirmed Cutaneous case on Oct. 19 by Pennsylvania Department of Health Recovered
Route 130 Hamilton Mail Processing Facility worker Confirmed Inhalational case by CDC on Oct 28. Released from hospital and recovering
Route 130 Mail Hamilton Processing Facility worker Confirmed Inhalational case by CDC on Oct. 29. Released from hospital and recovering

ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING RESULTS

Following is a listing of environmental sampling tests conducted by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and crime scene sampling by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Facility Organization Results
Bellmawr Mail Distribution Center DHSS, CDC & FBI Approximately 100 samples were collected Oct. 31. One of the FBI samples is positive through final testing. All other FBI, DHSS and CDC samples taken are negative through final testing. Although not recommended by DHSS and CDC, workers at the facility were offered 10 days of antibiotics.
Kuser Road Office Building DHSS, CDC & FBI Sampling was conducted Oct. 30. One FBI sample from an in-office mail bin was reported positive on Nov. 2. All other FBI, DHSS and CDC samples are negative through final testing. The DHSS and CDC did not recommend that the office be closed. The area around where the positive sample was collected has been cleaned.
Princeton Main, West Windsor DHSS, CDC & FBI 23 samples taken Oct. 27 are negative through final testing. 22 samples taken Oct. 27 are negative and one sample is positive through final testing. Additional environmental samples were collected Oct. 30 and all are negative through final testing. The area around where the positive sample was collected has been cleaned. Although not recommended by DHSS and CDC, workers were offered 10 days of antibiotics. DHSS and CDC recommend that employees can stop taking prophylactic antibiotics.
Route 130 Mail Processing Facility, Hamilton Township DHSS, CDC & FBI 34 out of 102 samples taken are positive for anthrax through final testing (14 of 23 collected by the FBI on Oct. 18; 20 of 59 collected by DHSS and CDC on Oct. 21). The DHSS also collected 20 samples on Oct 18 in the public and common use areas and all are negative through final testing. All employees and business visitors have been advised to complete a 60-day course of prophylactic antibiotics.
Carteret Facility DHSS & CDC All 14 samples taken Oct. 24 are negative for anthrax through final testing. The DHSS and CDC has informed the facility manager to advise workers and business visitors to stop taking antibiotics that had been given as a precautionary measure.
Downtown Station on Montgomery St., Trenton FBI All 11 samples taken to date are negative for anthrax through final testing.
West Trenton facility, Ewing Twp. DHSS, CDC & FBI All 20 FBI samples taken Oct. 19 and analyzed at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) are negative for anthrax through final testing. All 15 samples taken Oct. 23 by the FBI from areas outside the facility are negative for anthrax through final testing. All 22 DHSS and CDC samples taken Oct. 25 are negative for anthrax through final testing. DHSS and CDC recommend that employees can stop taking prophylactic antibiotics.
*The U.S. Postal Service is conducting its own environmental sampling and testing of approximately 200 postal facilities nationwide - including some in New Jersey - through the services of private environmental consulting companies. For more information, please contact the U.S. Postal Service.

DHSS and CDC collected 15 to 25 environmental samples on Nov. 3 from each of the 48 post offices in Central New Jersey not previously sampled that have their mail processed at the Hamilton Mail Processing Facility. The ten teams that collected the samples also met with postal employees to answer questions and address concerns. CDC will test the samples

The approximately 1,300 nasal swab tests done on workers from the Hamilton and West Trenton postal facilities are all negative through final testing. The nasal swabs were taken by DHSS, CDC and Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center-Hamilton. A negative nasal swab test does not mean that a person has not been exposed to anthrax and individuals from the Hamilton facility are urged to continue their antibiotic treatment.

As of today, the state laboratory has received more than 1,634 environmental samples, such as envelopes and packages, collected by law enforcement agencies from across the state. Testing on 1,498 of those specimens has been completed and all are negative for anthrax. The lab conducts culture tests on environmental samples and on clinical samples that meet established testing protocols.

The Department has a bioterrorism phone line at the Emergency Operations Center at 609-538-6030 that is open between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. until further notice. Hearing-impaired residents with anthrax-related concerns can contact the Department through the New Jersey Relay Center by dialing either 711 or 1-800-852-7899. The Relay Center will convey the caller's message to DHSS at the Emergency Operations Center. 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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