When anthrax appeared in New York, Washington DC, and Florida, fear of this biological weapon rippled across the country. How real is the threat to the Miami Valley?
"Our emergency response systems - 911, police, fire, and emergency departments - have received hundreds of calls and visits from citizens who were concerned they might have been exposed to anthrax," says Dr. Glenn Hamilton, professor and chair of emergency medicine at Wright State University School of Medicine. "We want the public to remain alert and aware, but not unduly fearful."
As a public service, a coalition of health care organizations has developed the following fact sheet on anthrax information for the Miami Valley. The group will issue these fact sheets as the need arises or as information changes.
1. Is there anthrax in the Miami Valley?
To date, there is no evidence of anthrax in the Miami Valley.
There are no documented cases in the State of Ohio.
The six largest post offices in Ohio, including Dayton, have tested negative for anthrax.
Each of nearly 2000 samples submitted to the Ohio Department of Health has tested negative for anthrax.
All calls investigated by EMS and Fire Departments have been negative for anthrax.
2. Is the Miami Valley a likely target?
The Miami Valley is no more likely to be a target than any other community of similar size in the United States.
3. What is my risk of becoming infected with anthrax?
It cannot be passed from one person to another.
Anthrax has not been found in the Miami Valley.
4. What if I think I have been exposed to anthrax?
Do not panic.
Put the item down.
Wash your hands with soap and water.
Call 911 to report a possible hazardous material.
5. Should I seek medical attention after a possible exposure?
While recognizing that a possible exposure to anthrax is frightening, it is not a medical emergency.
Contact your healthcare provider for instructions.
6. What if the situation changes?
Representatives of the endorsing agencies are meeting regularly to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed.
We will maintain active communication with the public.
For further information, visit www.gdaha.org.
These statements are endorsed by: Dayton Chapter of the American Red Cross, Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, Greater Miami Valley EMS Council, Montgomery County Medical Society, Wright State University School of Medicine, local health departments.