Opening a Bacillus anthracis-containing envelope, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. The public health response

Vincent P. Hsu, Susan L. Lukacs, Thomas Handzel, James Hayslett, Scott Harpe, Thomas Hales, Vera A. Semenova, Sandra Romero-Steiner, Cheryl Elie, Conrad P. Quinn, Rima Khabbaz, Ali S. Khan, Gregory Martin, John Eisold, Anne Schuchat, Rana A. Hajjeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


On October 15, 2001, a U.S. Senate staff member opened an envelope containing Bacillus anthracis spores. Chemoprophylaxis was promptly initiated and nasal swabs obtained for all persons in the immediate area. An epidemiologic investigation was conducted to define exposure areas and identify persons who should receive prolonged chemoprophylaxis, based on their exposure risk. Persons immediately exposed to B. anthracis spores were interviewed; records were reviewed to identify additional persons in this area. Persons with positive nasal swabs had repeat swabs and serial serologic evaluation to measure antibodies to B. anthracis protective antigen (anti-PA). A total of 625 persons were identified as requiring prolonged chemoprophylaxis; 28 had positive nasal swabs. Repeat nasal swabs were negative at 7 days; none had developed anti-PA antibodies by 42 days after exposure. Early nasal swab testing is a useful epidemiologic tool to assess risk of exposure to aerosolized B. anthracis. Early, wide chemoprophylaxis may have averted an outbreak of anthrax in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1039-1043
Number of pages5
JournalEmerging infectious diseases
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Opening a Bacillus anthracis-containing envelope, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. The public health response'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this