Howard University Closes Mailrooms After Finding Trace of Anthrax
WASHINGTONHoward University’s main mailroom and eight sorting facilities were temporarily closed last month after D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. Ivan Walks confirmed that one of a total of 54 environmental samples from the university’s main mailroom on the ground floor of the administration building tested positive for evidence of anthrax spores. Howard University officials immediately closed the site and, after contacting CDC Team Leader John Brooks, initiated the clean-up process, which was expected to be completed within 12 hours. To clean the mailroom, the University hired IT Corp., the same company contracted to clean the Brentwood Postal Station in Washington where two postal employees died due to anthrax inhalation. In resolving the situation, the university also contacted the FBI, CDC and the EPA, and affirmed that the measures being exacted at Howard were in line with established recommended protocols.The main mailroom, located on the ground floor of the administration building, was temporarily closed until testing was finished. Also closed were auxiliary mailrooms in Carver, Slowe, Meridian, Howard Plaza Towers dormitories, as well as those at the divinity and law schools and Howard University Hospital. Each of these sites receives mail directly from the Brentwood facility.The auxiliary sites were quickly reopened after testing found no trace of the bacteria. Operations in the main mailroom resumed several days later, after the clean-up was completed and re-testing produced negative results.As a precautionary measure, the university had already placed more than 300 mail-handling employees on prophylactic medications in line with D.C. Department of Health and CDC protocols, beginning the week of Oct 21. Of the individuals identified, none have shown signs of illness from the Anthrax bacteria.
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