Georgetown’s Department of Public Safety and Student Health Clinic are preparing for possible on-campus anthrax exposures with a system of preparation, anthrax education and cooperation with city authorities.

“We will follow a two-part procedure,” DPS Chief William Tucker said, explaining that DPS will keep officers alert and informed at all times, and follow a strictly formulated protocol if handling items possibly contaminated with anthrax.

In response to an opened letter or package suspected of containing anthrax, DPS will not move it, seal off and evacuate the area.

If a suspicious letter or package is unopened, DPS will “take possession, conceal [it] and bring it to DPS headquarters,” Tucker said. With both opened and unopened suspicious mail, DPS will immediately contact city police and health officials, he said.

Tucker stressed that a student who discovers a suspicious package or letter should call DPS immediately, remain at the site until otherwise instructed and record the names of anyone present.

Georgetown’s Student Health Clinic is working in conjunction with Georgetown Hospital and MedStar to prepare for potential on-campus anthrax cases. Student Health officials are participating in frequent meetings and educational sessions with GU Hospital and MedStar personnel to keep themselves and students informed about the anthrax threat.

Student Health sponsored an educational seminar, “Bio-Terrorism: What You Need to Know,” last Thursday night in ICC auditorium to inform students about the nature of recent anthrax cases. Dr. Mary A. Young of Georgetown Hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases, and Hospital Spokesman Dr. James P. Welsh, presented.

“Remain alert and informed,” Young advised students, stressing the constantly changing nature of our knowledge about anthrax. “There is a need for daily information,” Dr. Welsh added.

For daily updates on anthrax risks at Georgetown, students can call 784-5555.

“In general, you shouldn’t worry,” Young said, citing effective antibiotics and a successful vaccine. Several antibiotics, including Cipro and doxycycline, have been proven beneficial and remain widely available to those exposed to anthrax.

But antibiotics may not always prove valuable, suggested by two recent anthrax deaths at Washington’s Brentwood postal facility. Also, the proven anthrax vaccine is available only to military personnel and not to the general public, Young said.

Although Student Health officials could not directly discuss the specifics of anthrax-related procedures, Director Arlene Fernandez-Anderson did indicate that Student Health would follow a “set protocol,” attend continuing educational meetings with MedStar and Georgetown Hospital officials and receive new information daily.

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