During the 2001 anthrax attacks, public health agencies faced operational and communication decisions about the use of antibiotic prophylaxis and the anthrax vaccine with affected groups, including postal workers. This communication occurred within an evolving situation with incomplete and uncertain data. Guidelines for prophylactic antibiotics changed several times, contributing to confusion and mistrust. At the end of 60 days of taking antibiotics, people were offered an additional 40 days' supply of antibiotics, with or without the anthrax vaccine, the former constituting an investigational new drug protocol. Using data from interviews and focus groups with 65 postal workers in 3 sites and structured interviews with 16 public health professionals, this article examines the challenges for public health professionals who were responsible for communication with postal workers about the vaccine. Multiple factors affected the response, including a lack of trust, risk perception, disagreement about the recommendation, and the controversy over the military's use of the vaccine. Some postal workers reacted with suspicion to the vaccine offer, believing that they were the subjects of research, and some African American workers specifically drew an analogy to the Tuskegee syphilis study. The consent forms required for the protocol heightened mistrust. Postal workers also had complex and ambivalent responses to additional research on their health. The anthrax attacks present us with an opportunity to understand the challenges of communication in the context of uncertain science and suggest key strategies that may improve communications about vaccines and other drugs authorized for experimental use in future public health emergencies.
We collected data during postexposure antimicrobial prophylaxis campaigns and from a prophylaxis program evaluation 60 days after start of antimicrobial prophylaxis involving persons from six U.S. sites where Bacillus anthracis exposures occurred. Adverse events associated with antimicrobial prophylaxis to prevent anthrax were commonly reported, but hospitalizations and serious adverse events as defined by Food and Drug Administration criteria were rare. Overall adherence during 60 days of antimicrobial prophylaxis was poor (44%), ranging from 21% of persons exposed in the Morgan postal facility in New York City to 64% of persons exposed at the Brentwood postal facility in Washington, D.C. Adherence was highest among participants in an investigational new drug protocol to receive additional antibiotics with or without anthrax vaccine—a likely surrogate for anthrax risk perception. Adherence of <60 days was not consistently associated with adverse events.
Anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; antimicrobial prophylaxis; adverse events; adherence
The CDC recommend 60 days of oral antibiotics combined with a three-dose series of the anthrax vaccine for prophylaxis after potential exposure to aerosolized Bacillus anthracis spores. The anthrax vaccine is currently not licensed for anthrax postexposure prophylaxis and has to be made available under an Investigational New Drug protocol. Postexposure prophylaxis based on antibiotics can be problematic in cases where the use of antibiotics is contraindicated. Furthermore, there is a concern that an exposure could involve antibiotic-resistant strains of B. anthracis. Availability of alternate treatment modalities that are effective in prophylaxis of inhalation anthrax is therefore highly desirable. A major research focus toward this end has been on passive immunization using polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies against B. anthracis toxin components. Since 2001, significant progress has been made in isolation and commercial development of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies that function as potent neutralizers of anthrax lethal toxin in both a prophylactic and therapeutic setting. Several new products have completed Phase I clinical trials and are slated for addition to the National Strategic Stockpile. These rapid advances were possible because of major funding made available by the US government through programs such as Bioshield and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Continued government funding is critical to support the development of a robust biodefense industry.
antibiotic treatment; biodefense funding; inhalation anthrax; lethal factor; medical countermeasures; prophylactic antibodies; protective antigen; vaccination
On October 31, 2001, in New York City, a 61-year-old female hospital employee who had acquired inhalational anthrax died after a 6-day illness. To determine sources of exposure and identify additional persons at risk, the New York City Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and law enforcement authorities conducted an extensive investigation, which included interviewing contacts, examining personal effects, summarizing patient’s use of mass transit, conducting active case finding and surveillance near her residence and at her workplace, and collecting samples from co-workers and the environment. We cultured all specimens for Bacillus anthracis. We found no additional cases of cutaneous or inhalational anthrax. The route of exposure remains unknown. All environmental samples were negative for B. anthracis. This first case of inhalational anthrax during the 2001 outbreak with no apparent direct link to contaminated mail emphasizes the need for close coordination between public health and law enforcement agencies during bioterrorism-related investigations.
B. anthracis; inhalational anthrax; bioterrorism; research
Inhalation anthrax is a potentially lethal form of disease resulting from exposure to aerosolized Bacillus anthracis spores. Over the last decade, incidents spanning from the deliberate mailing of B. anthracis spores to incidental exposures in users of illegal drugs have highlighted the importance of developing new medical countermeasures to protect people who have been exposed to “anthrax spores” and are at risk of developing disease. The New Zealand White rabbit (NZWR) is a well-characterized model that has a pathogenesis and clinical presentation similar to those seen in humans. This article reports how the NZWR model was adapted to evaluate postexposure prophylaxis using a recombinant protective antigen (rPA) vaccine in combination with an oral antibiotic, levofloxacin. NZWRs were exposed to multiples of the 50% lethal dose (LD50) of B. anthracis spores and then vaccinated immediately (day 0) and again on day 7 postexposure. Levofloxacin was administered daily beginning at 6 to 12 h postexposure for 7 treatments. Rabbits were evaluated for clinical signs of disease, fever, bacteremia, immune response, and survival. A robust immune response (IgG anti-rPA and toxin-neutralizing antibodies) was observed in all vaccinated groups on days 10 to 12. Levofloxacin plus either 30 or 100 μg rPA vaccine resulted in a 100% survival rate (18 of 18 per group), and a vaccine dose as low as 10 μg rPA resulted in an 89% survival rate (16 of 18) when used in combination with levofloxacin. In NZWRs that received antibiotic alone, the survival rate was 56% (10 of 18). There was no adverse effect on the development of a specific IgG response to rPA in unchallenged NZWRs that received the combination treatment of vaccine plus antibiotic. This study demonstrated that an accelerated two-dose regimen of rPA vaccine coadministered on days 0 and 7 with 7 days of levofloxacin therapy results in a significantly greater survival rate than with antibiotic treatment alone. Combination of vaccine administration and antibiotic treatment may be an effective strategy for treating a population exposed to aerosolized B. anthracis spores.
We used unpublished reports, published manuscripts, and communication with investigators to identify and summarize 49 anthrax-related epidemiologic field investigations conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1950 to August 2001. Of 41 investigations in which Bacillus anthracis caused human or animal disease, 24 were in agricultural settings, 11 in textile mills, and 6 in other settings. Among the other investigations, two focused on building decontamination, one was a response to bioterrorism threats, and five involved other causes. Knowledge gained in these investigations helped guide the public health response to the October 2001 intentional release of B. anthracis, especially by addressing the management of anthrax threats, prevention of occupational anthrax, use of antibiotic prophylaxis in exposed persons, use of vaccination, spread of B. anthracis spores in aerosols, clinical diagnostic and laboratory confirmation methods, techniques for environmental sampling of exposed surfaces, and methods for decontaminating buildings.
anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; bacterial infections; disease outbreaks; public health; bioterrorism; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.); historical article (publication type); zoonoses
The New York State Department of Health has conducted a number of studies over the past 10 years investigating health impacts related to the September 11, 2001 (9/11) disaster among New York City residents and New York State World Trade Center (WTC) responders. Efforts to evaluate the health effects of WTC exposures in these cohorts presented numerous challenges, including study design and associated concerns about bias, identifying the affected populations, gaining community support and participation, and determining the most appropriate clinical testing and follow-up approaches. The unique position of a state public health agency provided multiple points of support for these efforts. An overview of what was found and the lessons learned during the response to the 9/11 disaster is presented, from the viewpoint of a state public health agency.
9/11; WTC; World Trade Center; first responders; disaster epidemiology
At least four Bacillus anthracis–containing envelopes destined for New York City and Washington, D.C., were processed at the Trenton Processing and Distribution Center (PDC) on September 18 and October 9, 2001. When cutaneous anthrax was confirmed in a Trenton postal worker, the PDC was closed. Four cutaneous and two inhalational anthrax cases were identified. Five patients were hospitalized; none died. Four were PDC employees; the others handled or received mail processed there. Onset dates occurred in two clusters following envelope processing at the PDC. The attack rate among the 170 employees present when the B. anthracis–containing letters were sorted on October 9 was 1.2%. Of 137 PDC environmental samples, 57 (42%) were positive. Five (10%) of 50 local post offices each yielded one positive sample. Cutaneous or inhalational anthrax developed in four postal employees at a facility where B. anthracis–containing letters were processed. Cross-contaminated mail or equipment was the likely source of infection in two other case-patients with cutaneous anthrax.
Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; bioterrorism
After inhalational anthrax was diagnosed in a Connecticut woman on November 20, 2001, postexposure prophylaxis was recommended for postal workers at the regional mail facility serving the patient’s area. Although environmental testing at the facility yielded negative results, subsequent testing confirmed the presence of Bacillus anthracis. We distributed questionnaires to 100 randomly selected postal workers within 20 days of initial prophylaxis. Ninety-four workers obtained antibiotics, 68 of whom started postexposure prophylaxis and 21 discontinued. Postal workers who stopped or never started taking prophylaxis cited as reasons disbelief regarding anthrax exposure, problems with adverse events, and initial reports of negative cultures. Postal workers with adverse events reported predominant symptoms of gastrointestinal distress and headache. The influence of these concerns on adherence suggests that communication about risks of acquiring anthrax, education about adverse events, and careful management of adverse events are essential elements in increasing adherence.
Anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; prophylaxis; adverse effects; ciprofloxacin; doxycycline; patient noncompliance; Connecticut
Anthrax is a human disease that results from infection by the bacteria, Bacillus anthracis and has recently been used as a bioterrorist agent. Historically, this disease was associated with Bacillus spore exposure from wool or animal carcasses. While current vaccine approaches (targeted against the protective antigen) are effective for prophylaxis, multiple doses must be injected. Common antibiotics that block the germination process are effective but must be administered early in the infection cycle. In addition, new therapeutics are needed to specifically target the proteolytic activity of lethal factor (LF) associated with this bacterial infection.
Using a fluorescence-based assay to identify and characterize inhibitors of anthrax lethal factor protease activity, we identified several chemically-distinct classes of inhibitory molecules including polyamines, aminoglycosides and cationic peptides. In these studies, spermine was demonstrated for the first time to inhibit anthrax LF with a Ki value of 0.9 ± 0.09 μM (mean ± SEM; n = 3). Additional linear polyamines were also active as LF inhibitors with lower potencies.
Based upon the studies reported herein, we chose linear polyamines related to spermine as potential lead optimization candidates and additional testing in cell-based models where cell penetration could be studied. During our screening process, we reproducibly demonstrated that the potencies of certain compounds, including neomycin but not neamine or spermine, were different depending upon the presence or absence of nucleic acids. Differential sensitivity to the presence/absence of nucleic acids may be an additional point to consider when comparing various classes of active compounds for lead optimization.
As the largest, and one of the most eclectic, urban center in the United States, New York City felt the need to develop an Office of Emergency Management to coordinate communications and direct resources in the event of a mass disaster. Practice drills were then carried out to assess and improve disaster preparedness. The day of 11 September 2001 began with the unimaginable. As events unfolded, previous plans based on drills were found not to address the unique issues faced and new plans rapidly evolved out of necessity. Heroic actions were commonplace. Much can be learned from the events of 11 September 2001. Natural and unnatural disasters will happen again, so it is critical that these lessons be learned. Proper preparation will undoubtedly save lives and resources.
disaster; HAZMAT; preparation; weapons of mass destruction; World Trade Center
In 1991, most physicians in Minnesota and Wisconsin managed patients concerns about anthrax without dispensing prophylactic antimicrobial agents.
Media reports suggested increased public demand for anthrax prophylaxis after the intentional anthrax cases in 2001, but the magnitude of anthrax-related prescribing in unaffected regions was not assessed. We surveyed a random sample of 400 primary care clinicians in Minnesota and Wisconsin to assess requests for and provision of anthrax-related antimicrobial agents. The survey was returned by 239 (60%) of clinicians, including 210 in outpatient practice. Fifty-eight (28%) of those in outpatient practice received requests for anthrax-related antimicrobial agents, and 9 (4%) dispensed them. Outpatient fluoroquinolone use in both states was also analyzed with regression models to compare predicted and actual use in October and November 2001. Fluoroquinolone use as a proportion of total antimicrobial use was not elevated, and anthrax concerns accounted for an estimated 0.3% of all fluoroquinolone prescriptions. Most physicians in Minnesota and Wisconsin managed anthrax-related requests without dispensing antimicrobial agents.
research, anthrax, fluoroquinolone, prophylaxis; drug resistance; bioterrorism
Inappropriate use of antibiotics by individuals worried about biological agent exposures during bioterrorism events is an important public health concern. However, little is documented about the extent to which individuals with self-identified risk of anthrax exposure approached physicians for antimicrobial prophylaxis during the 2001 bioterrorism attacks in the United States.
We conducted a telephone survey of randomly selected members of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians to assess patients' request for and emergency physicians' prescription of antimicrobial agents during the 2001 anthrax attacks.
Ninety-seven physicians completed the survey. Sixty-four (66%) respondents had received requests from patients for anthrax prophylaxis; 16 (25%) of these physicians prescribed antibiotics to a total of 23 patients. Ten physicians prescribed ciprofloxacin while 8 physicians prescribed doxycycline.
During the 2001 bioterrorist attacks, the majority of the emergency physicians we surveyed encountered patients who requested anthrax prophylaxis. Public fears may lead to a high demand for antibiotic prophylaxis during bioterrorism events. Elucidation of the relationship between public health response to outbreaks and outcomes would yield insights to ease burden on frontline clinicians and guide strategies to control inappropriate antibiotic allocation during bioterrorist events.
Respiratory anthrax, in the absence of early antibiotic treatment, is a fatal disease. This study aimed to test the efficiency of antibiotic therapy in curing infected animals and those sick with anthrax. Postexposure prophylaxis (24 h postinfection [p.i.]) of guinea pigs infected intranasally with Bacillus anthracis Vollum spores with doxycycline, ofloxacin, imipenem, and gentamicin conferred protection. However, upon termination of treatment, the animals died from respiratory anthrax. Combined treatment with antibiotics and active vaccination with a protective antigen-based vaccine leads to full protection even after cessation of treatment. Delaying the initiation of antibiotic administration to over 24 h p.i. resulted in treatment of animals with anthrax exhibiting various degrees of bacteremia and toxemia. Treatment with doxycycline or ciprofloxacin cured sick guinea pigs and rabbits exhibiting bacteremia levels up to 105 CFU/ml. Addition of anti-protective antigen (PA) antibodies augmented the efficiency of protection, allowing the cure of guinea pigs and rabbits with 10- to 20-fold-higher bacteremia levels, up to 7 × 105 CFU/ml and 2 × 106 CFU/ml, respectively. Treatment with ciprofloxacin and a monoclonal anti-PA antibody rescued rabbits with bacteremia levels up to 4 × 106 CFU/ml. During antibiotic administration, all surviving animals developed a protective immune response against development of a fatal disease and subcutaneous challenge with Vollum spores. In conclusion, these results demonstrate that antibiotic treatment can prevent the development of fatal disease in respiratory-anthrax-infected animals and can cure animals after disease establishment. A therapeutic time window of 40 h to 48 h from infection to initiation of efficient antibiotic-mediated cure was observed.
During the last week of May 1986, a 1-week prospective study on antibiotic utilization in surgical patients was held in 104 (42%) of the 247 Belgian acute care hospitals. All surgical patients with a post-operative stay of at least 3 days were studied, involving 3112 patients. Each patient was observed for 7 days, starting from the day before surgery. Antibiotics were administered to 71·9% of all patients; 21·9% received therapeutic antibiotics and 52·9% prophylactic antibiotics; 2·9% received both. Of the 1285 patients undergoing a surgical procedure with no indication for antimicrobial prophylaxis, 50·7% nevertheless received prophylaxis; 92·8% of patients with a generally recognized indication for prophylaxis received antibiotic prophylaxis. Less than one fifth (17·1%) of all prophylactic courses were stopped on the day of the intervention whilst 26·3% were continued up to the fifth post-operative day or beyond. The most frequently prescribed drugs for this indication included first and second generation cephalosporins and nitroimidazoles. The number of different generic drugs utilized per hospital ranged from 1 to 18 (mean: 7·7).
After the 2001 World Trade Center disaster, the New York City Department of Health was under heightened alert for bioterrorist attacks in the city. An emergency department (ED) syndromic surveillance system was implemented with the assistance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure early recognition of an increase or clustering of disease syndromes that might represent a disease outbreak, whether natural or intentional. The surveillance system was based on data collected 7 days a week at area EDs. Data collected were translated into syndromes, entered into an electronic database, and analyzed for aberrations in space and time within 24 hours. From September 14–27, personnel were stationed at 15 EDs on a 24-hour basis (first staffing period); from September 29–October 12, due to resource limitations, personnel were stationed at 12 EDs on an 18-hour basis (second staffing period). A standardized form was used to obtain demographic information and classify each patient visit into 12 syndrome categories. Seven of these represented early manifestations of bioterrorist agents. Data transfer and analysis for time and space clustering (alarms) by syndrome and age occurred daily. Retrospective analyses examined syndrome trends, differences in reporting between staffing periods, and the staff’s experience during the project. A total of 67,536 reports were received. The system captured 83.9% of patient visits during the first staffing period, and 60.8% during the second staffing period (P<01). Five syndromes each accounted for more than 1% of visits: trauma, asthma, gastrointestinal illness, upper/lower respiratory infection with fever, and anxiety. Citywide temporal alarms occurred eight times for three of the major bioterrorism-related syndromes. Spatial clustering alarms occurred 16 time by hospital location and 9 times by ZIP code for the same three syndromes. No outbreaks were detected. On-site staffing to facilitate data collection and entry, supported by daily analysis of ED visits, is a feasible short-term approach to syndromic surveillance during high-profile events. The resources required to operate such a system, however, cannot be sustained for the long term. This system was changed to an electronic-based ED syndromic system using triage log data that remains in operation.
In October 2001, two envelopes containing Bacillus anthracis spores were processed at the Washington, D.C., Processing and Distribution Center of the U.S. Postal Service; inhalational anthrax developed in four workers at this facility. More than 2,000 workers were advised to complete 60 days of postexposure prophylaxis to prevent inhalational anthrax. Interventions to promote adherence were carried out to support workers, and qualitative information was collected to evaluate our interventions. A quantitative survey was administered to a convenience sample of workers to assess factors influencing adherence. No anthrax infections developed in any workers involved in the interventions or interviews. Of 245 workers, 98 (40%) reported full adherence to prophylaxis, and 45 (18%) had completely discontinued it. Experiencing adverse effects to prophylaxis, anxiety, and being <45 years old were risk factors for discontinuing prophylaxis. Interventions, especially frequent visits by public health staff, proved effective in supporting adherence.
adherence; Bacillus anthracis; bioterrorism; antimicrobial prophylaxis; compliance
In 2001, envelopes loaded with Bacillus anthracis spores were mailed to Senators Daschle and Leahy as well as to the New York Post and NBC News buildings. Additional letters may have been mailed to other news agencies because there was confirmed anthrax infection of employees at these locations. These events heightened the awareness of the lack of understanding of the mechanism(s) by which objects contaminated with a biological agent might spread disease. This understanding is crucial for the estimation of the potential for exposure to ensure the appropriate response in the event of future attacks. In this study, equipment to simulate interactions between envelopes and procedures to analyze the spread of spores from a “payload” envelope (i.e., loaded internally with a powdered spore preparation) onto neighboring envelopes were developed. Another process to determine whether an aerosol could be generated by opening contaminated envelopes was developed. Subsequent generations of contaminated envelopes originating from a single payload envelope showed a consistent two-log decrease in the number of spores transferred from one generation to the next. Opening a tertiary contaminated envelope resulted in an aerosol containing 103 B. anthracis spores. We developed a procedure for sampling contaminated letters by a nondestructive method aimed at providing information useful for consequence management while preserving the integrity of objects contaminated during the incident and preserving evidence for law enforcement agencies.
Sampling of airborne ragweed and other pollen grains in the City of New York is described as it took place during the months of August and September 1973. Three sampling stations participated in the program. This effort was meant to serve as the forerunner of a citywide volunteer pollen sampling network based on the cooperation of existing health care providing institutions, schools, and stations of the operational sampling network of the New York City Department of Air Resources. Monitoring stations were set up on the roof of Cooper Union School of Engineering at 51 Astor Place in downtown Manhattan, at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Inc. at Yonkers, N.Y. and use was made of the data supplied by Middlesex General Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J. Seasonal results of ragweed pollen sampling, undertaken at the downtown New York City location of Cooper Union with the swing-shield intermittant rotoslide sampler, are similar to those of studies undertaken in the 1940's and 1950's with the Durham slide sampler in the New York metropolitan area. Comparison of the collected data with converted data obtained in 1979 at Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center with the aid of a Durham gravity slide sampler shows the trend similarity of the data collected by us in 1973 and those obtained in 1979. Collected data of the 1973 ragweed season were supplied to the New York City news media on a daily basis, as a much appreciated service to the public.
New York City medium and New York City medium without hemoglobin were comparatively evaluated for their ability to support the growth of Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolated from 1,010 clinical specimens. Although hemoglobin in the form of lysed horse erythrocytes stimulated gonococcal growth, the absence of this component from New York City medium did not have a detrimental effect on the recovery of gonococci isolated from clinical specimens. Both media were comparable in their ability to cultivate gonococci from clinical material, with a total of 187 gonococcal isolates being recovered on each of the media. The results of this study showed that the preparation of New York City medium can be facilitated and that its cost can perhaps be reduced by the elimination of the hemoglobin component from the formulation without adverse effect on the recovery of N. gonorrhoeae isolated from clinical specimens.
In the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks and the subsequent anthrax scare, there is growing concern about the United States' vulnerability to terrorist use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). As part of ongoing preparation for this terrible reality, many jurisdictions have been conducting simulated terrorist incidents to provide training for the public safety community, hospitals, and public health departments. As an example of this national effort to improve domestic preparedness for such events, a large scale, multi-jurisdictional chemical weapons drill was conducted in Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 20, 2000. This drill depicted the components of the early warning system for hospitals and public health departments, the prehospital medical response to terrorism. Over the course of the exercise, emergency medical services personnel decontaminated, triaged, treated, and transported eighty-five patients. Several important lessons were learned that day that have widespread applicability to health care delivery systems nationwide, especially in the areas of decontamination, triage, on-scene medical care, and victim transportation. As this training exercise helped Cincinnati to prepare for dealing with future large scale WMD incidents, such drills are invaluable preparation for all communities in a world increasingly at risk from terrorist attacks.
From October 4 to November 2, 2001, the first 10 confirmed cases of inhalational anthrax caused by intentional release of Bacillus anthracis were identified in the United States. Epidemiologic investigation indicated that the outbreak, in the District of Columbia, Florida, New Jersey, and New York, resulted from intentional delivery of B. anthracis spores through mailed letters or packages. We describe the clinical presentation and course of these cases of bioterrorism-related inhalational anthrax. The median age of patients was 56 years (range 43 to 73 years), 70% were male, and except for one, all were known or believed to have processed, handled, or received letters containing B. anthracis spores. The median incubation period from the time of exposure to onset of symptoms, when known (n=6), was 4 days (range 4 to 6 days). Symptoms at initial presentation included fever or chills (n=10), sweats (n=7), fatigue or malaise (n=10), minimal or nonproductive cough (n=9), dyspnea (n=8), and nausea or vomiting (n=9). The median white blood cell count was 9.8 X 10(3)/mm(3) (range 7.5 to 13.3), often with increased neutrophils and band forms. Nine patients had elevated serum transaminase levels, and six were hypoxic. All 10 patients had abnormal chest X-rays; abnormalities included infiltrates (n=7), pleural effusion (n=8), and mediastinal widening (seven patients). Computed tomography of the chest was performed on eight patients, and mediastinal lymphadenopathy was present in seven. With multidrug antibiotic regimens and supportive care, survival of patients (60%) was markedly higher (<15%) than previously reported.
In October 2001, four cases of inhalational anthrax occurred in workers in a Washington, D.C., mail facility that processed envelopes containing Bacillus anthracis spores. We reviewed the envelopes’ paths and obtained exposure histories and nasal swab cultures from postal workers. Environmental sampling was performed. A sample of employees was assessed for antibody concentrations to B. anthracis protective antigen. Case-patients worked on nonoverlapping shifts throughout the facility. Environmental sampling showed diffuse contamination of the facility, suggesting multiple aerosolization events. Potential workplace exposures were similar for the case-patients and the sample of workers. All nasal swab cultures and serum antibody tests were negative. Available tools could not identify subgroups of employees at higher risk for exposure or disease. Prophylaxis was necessary for all employees. To protect postal workers against bioterrorism, measures to reduce the risk of occupational exposure are necessary.
bioterrorism; Bacillus anthracis; postal facility; inhalational anthrax
New York Online Access to Health (NOAH) is a Web site that provides accurate, timely, relevant, and unbiased full-text health information in both English and Spanish. A joint project of The City University of New York Office of Library Services, The New York Academy of Medicine Library, the Metropolitan New York Library Council, and The New York Public Library, NOAH brings consumer health information to the public in New York City and around the world via the Internet. NOAH is an example of a successful collaboration among different types of libraries (academic, public, medical society) and voluntary health agencies to use new technologies to reach a very broad public. This paper discusses the involvement of the library partners in terms of the management and funding of the site. Web site construction is described including how the information is gathered and organized. Future plans and funding issues for NOAH are considered in terms of the expected increase in the need for consumer health information. NOAH can be reached at: www.noah.cuny.edu.
This article seeks to determine the proportion of pregnancies that are unintended among poor women in New York City, compare the New York City rate to national data, and examine factors associated with unintended pregnancy in this population. Pregnancy testing data collected between June 1, 1998, and June 1, 2001, from field sites operated by the Office of Family Health, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene were analyzed. Pregnancy planning (intended vs. unintended) was examined by age group, race/ethnicity, marital status, frequency of contraceptive use, number of previous pregnancies, drug and alcohol use, and smoking. Odds ratios were calculated to determine if pregnancies were more likely to be unintended among women with certain characteristics. Logistic regression was used to examine independent risk factors for unintended pregnancy. Of the 20,518 women who had a pregnancy test during the study period, 9,406 (45.8%) were pregnant. Of the pregnancies, 82% were unintended. Marital status was the strongest predictor of unintended pregnancy, increasing the risk 2.5-fold for unmarried women. Adolescents and those who drank alcohol were also at increased risk of unintended pregnancy. The extremely high percentage of pregnancies that were unintended among the study population suggests that national unintended pregnancy rates are not representative of what occurs among low-income women in an urban setting. Unintended pregnancy interventions should be tailored for the urban poor and target unmarried, young women.
Health and urban poor; Pregnancy planning; Unintended pregnancy