A Biological Threat "Anthrax"

Oct. 16, 2002
Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by a bacterium Bacillus Anthracis. It occurs naturally in various types of livestock. It has been developed by some as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).
What is Anthrax?

Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by a bacterium Bacillus Anthracis. It occurs naturally in various types of livestock. It has been developed by some as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).


Diagnosing early is the only hope for successful treatment of this terrible disease. It is hard for most doctors to diagnose it early, with its' flulike symptoms. Once diagnosed the application of an antibiotic called Ciprofloxacin or "Cipro" can cause full recovery to take place. If not diagnosed early death is very likely if untreated.

Recent History

When I published "Terrorism Training Update Anthrax" in July of 1999, anthrax exposure has not occurred for many years within the United States. If a firefighter or emergency medical technician responded to an anthrax case you could guarantee it to be a hoax. Sadly to say that has completely changed. I write this article, changes are taking place associated with this terrible terrorist weapon.

On October 5th, 2001 a 63 year old Florida man was the first death from anthrax in 25 years. Anthrax can be contracted in three ways: inhalation, cutaneous and gastrointestinal. Inhalation Anthrax is the most dangerous and was the type, Bob Stevens, a photo editor at American Media, Incorporated (publisher of supermarket tabloids). Mr. Stevens failed to recover with the use of antibiotics. He died from cardiac arrest, while suffering from kidney failure. There were nearly 1,000 employees of the publisher tested with eight tested positive for anthrax. These eight have been given antibiotics to help in their recovery.

Time Line

Oct. 4, 2001 Boca Ration, Florida America Media Inc. Eight employees tested positive

Oct. 5, 2001
Bob Stevens one of the eight died

Oct. 10, 2001
Reno, Nevada
Five employees and family members tested negative after an anthrax letter was received.

Oct. 12, 2001
New York, New York
National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
One employee infected with the skin form of anthrax. Also one New York City Police Officer and two lab technicians tested positive.

Oct. 15, 2001
Trenton, New Jersey
Post Office
Inspectors confirmed two letters were mailed from that location, two workers possibly exposed.

Oct. 15, 2001
Washington, D.C.
Senator Tom Deschle's Office
Forty staff members were quarantined and tested.

Oct. 15, 2001
New York, New York
America Broadcasting Company (ABC)
A seven month old son of a news producer has developed the skin form of anthrax.

As this article is being completed two postal workers died of anthrax it is believed and 2,000 will be tested.

Follow Up

The number of people tested with a positive reading and the number of locations continue to increase. The terrorism attack taking place this month in the United States, has indeed cause terror in many of its citizens. We have responded to a number of these in the San Diego area. I heard a report that there were 150 calls for possible anthrax in one weekend. It was said by a health department official that, "people are approaching paranoia."

Our Response

  • Awareness of anthrax to the general public
  • Training of Letter Carriers / Postal Workers
  • Changing of Laws to address the situation
  • Changing of procedures in the private and public sectors
  • Resources and funding increased
  • Postal service mailing out anthrax Info flyers
  • Increase in public service / emergency responder training

Final Remarks

In the emergency services, we have been preparing for these events for some time. We have often said, "It's not if it is going to happen, It's when it is going to happen." Well it is happening now. Prepare, prepare, prepare! See the basic guideline that may be used to assist you in developing your own.


  • County of Los Angeles, Department of Health Services, Acute Communicable Disease Control - Guidelines as transmitted as a draft on Dec. 3rd, 1998, from Center fro Disease Control.
  • San Diego Fire Department, Hazardous Material Team, Biological Threat Management Guidelines.
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs, Counterterrorism Programs, Weekly Information Report of 12/31/98.
  • San Diego Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Biological Threat Management Guidelines.

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