Jim Martin, Commissioner

Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., Division Director

Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health

Two Peachtree Street NW Suite 15-470 Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3186 Tel: (404) 657-2700 Fax: (404) 657-2715



Advice to the Public



How To Handle Anthrax and Other Biological Agent Threats



1. Anthrax organisms can cause infection in the skin, gastrointestinal system, or the lungs. To do, so the organism must be rubbed into abraded skin, swallowed, or inhaled as a fine, aerosolized mist. Disease can be prevented after exposure to the anthrax spores by early treatment with the appropriate antibiotics. Anthrax is not spread from one person to another person.


2. For anthrax to be effective as a covert agent, it must be aerosolized into very small particles. This is difficult to do, and requires a great deal of technical skill and special equipment. If these small particles are inhaled, life‑threatening lung infection can occur, but prompt recognition and treatment are effective.


What are the Characteristics of a Suspicious Package?

The likelihood of receiving a package or letter containing suspicious substances is remote.  However, it is important for everyone to be aware of characteristics that are common to suspicious packages.  Some indicators include, but are not limited to, the following:

        Excessive postage

        Handwritten or poorly typed addresses

        Oily stains, discolorations or odor

        No return address

        Excessive weight, lopsided or uneven envelope

        Ticking sound

        A city or state in the postmark that does not match the return address


Protocol for Suspicious Letters or Packages:

        Do not shake or empty the contents of any suspicious envelope or package; DO NOT try to clean up powders or fluids.

        PLACE the envelope or package in a plastic bag or some other type of container to

Prevent leakage of contents.

        If you do not have any container, then COVER the envelope or package with anything (e.g., clothing, paper, trash can, etc.) and do not remove this cover.

        Then LEAVE the room and CLOSE the door, or section off the area to prevent others from entering (i.e., keep others away).

        WASH your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any powder to your face or skin.

        If you are at HOME, then report the incident to local police, who will conduct a credibility threat assessment.

        If you are at WORK, then report the incident to local police, and notify your building security official or an available supervisor.

        If possible, LIST all people who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized. Give this list to both the local public health authorities and law enforcement officials for follow‑up investigations and advice.

        Remove clothing with evidence of the suspicious substance and place in a plastic bag that can be sealed; give the bag to law enforcement personnel.

        Shower with soap and water as soon as possible. Do not use bleach or disinfectant on your skin.



For further information, please call the Georgia Division of Public Health Event Information Line, operated by the Georgia Poison Center, at 1-866-752-3442 (toll-free, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week).


Also, please visit the Georgia Division of Public Health Bioterrorism webpage at http://health.state.ga.us/programs/emerprep/bioterrorism.shtml