Cipro prescribed for trucking mail haulers

| 10/26/2001

According to WBAL News in Baltimore, more Maryland residents are now taking Cipro after possible anthrax exposures. But health officials say only two of those Washington County residents are likely to have come into contact with anthrax spores. Those two are truck drivers who work for a local company that does business for the U.S. Post Office.

The truckers are among those possibly exposed at the Brentwood facility in Washington, DC, where two postal workers died Monday of inhalation anthrax. Two more Washington County truckdrivers will be given Cipro when they return home.

The U.S. Postal Service delivers more than 208 billion pieces of mail per year, with more moving by truck than ever before. While USPS says it's unlikely that a truckdriver will personally handle any contaminated mail, trucking companies large and small should have a plan in place.

Here are some guidelines to help you stay safe:
1 -- Make sure you (or your carrier) has a plan in place to handle the situation; before you load.
2 -- Typical characteristics include: a powdered substance on the outside, strange odors or stains, is of unusual weight, has no return address, has an unusual amount of tape or string, protruding wires, or marked with "Personal" or "Confidential."
3 -- If you suspect a bag or packages is contaminated, don't handle it. Gloves are a good idea.
4 -- If you find suspicious cargo/packages/mail, call the local police and your carrier's safety director.
5 -- Make sure that damaged or suspicious packages are isolated and the immediate area isolated.
6 -- Ensure that all persons who have touched the suspected cargo thoroughly wash their hands and arms with soap and water.
7 -- List all persons who have touched the package, letter and/or envelope. Include contact information. Provide the list to the appropriate inspection authorities.
8 -- Place all items worn when in contact with the suspected mail piece/cargo in plastic bags and keep them wherever you change your clothes and have them available for law enforcement agents.
9 -- As soon as practical, shower with soap and water.

Postal Service Vice President Deborah Willhite said this week postal workers and truckers in Washington, New York and Trenton, all sites where anthrax-tainted mail was handled, have been offered masks and gloves of a type recommended by the Center for Disease Control. The protective coverings will be offered to all 800,000 postal workers by the end of the week on an ``optional, not mandatory'' basis, Willhite said. She also said the Postal Service was experimenting with ways to cleanse the nation's mail.

If you have any questions, contact the Center for Disease Control Emergency Response at (770) 488-7100.