Local Mail Tests Negative for Anthrax

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Published 7th November 2001, 1:19pm

As of Nov. 7, all local mail checked by health officials for anthrax has tested negative for the dangerous spores, according to the Public Health Services.

Twenty-seven items – 23 pieces of regular mail and four items containing suspicious powder – were turned over by residents and the Cayman Islands Postal Service, said Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kiran Kumar. In addition to Public Health, the Royal Cayman Islands Police and the Cayman Islands Postal Service were involved in the tests. He emphasised that health-care facilities in the Cayman Islands, both in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, are equipped with resources to handle any suspected or actual cases of anthrax.

The three local government departments involved in the testing recently issued an advisory, based on information from the US Centres for Disease Control, the US Postal Service and the Trinidad-based Caribbean Epidemiology Centre, on the safe handling of mail with suspected anthrax contamination. In short, it stated that persons should avoid handling suspicious envelopes or packages, checking for unusual marks as well as endorsements such as “confidential” or “restricted.” Further instructions include not shaking or emptying the mail or package of its contents; instead, immediately place it in a plastic bag or container, wash hands with soap and water, and immediately contact the RCIP or 911.

If an envelope or package is opened and powder spills out, turn off fans and ventilation systems. Do not try to clean up the powder, but cover it immediately and leave the room, locking the door to prevent others from entering. Remove clothing and place it in a sealed container or plastic bag, and shower with soap and water and immediately contact the RCIP or 911.

For more information please contact Public Health Services on 244-2621; the Royal Cayman Islands Police on 949-4222; or the Cayman Islands Postal Services at 949 2474.