Fire and Police Officials Establish Joint Response for Anthrax
Firefighters Find No Anthrax in Three Separate Incidents

Federal Way fire and police officials met yesterday to coordinate response efforts to a possible anthrax incident in the Federal Way community.

Since Monday, the Federal Way Fire Department has responded to three instances where powder-like substances were present.  None of the incidents involved anthrax.  In one instance, a white substance resembling powdered sugar was found on a drinking fountain in a business office.  The substance was determined to be a cleaning product.  In another instance, a white substance resembling granulated sugar was found in the restrooms, on a railing and on the leaf of a plant.  A third incident involved an envelope containing a greenish powder.

Fire and police officials urge residents to be cautious, but to avoid hypervigilence.  "We certainly appreciate the heightened awareness, but it's important not to overreact," said Fire Chief Al Church.  "The worst thing anyone can do is panic and allow fear to overtake rationale thought.  The Federal Way community has highly trained police and fire personnel who are prepared to handle these types of emergencies."

Standard procedure for a suspicious envelope or package that might be anthrax would be to avoid shaking or emptying the contents, then placing the package in a plastic bag or some other type of container to prevent leakage of the product.  If there is no container, the package should be covered with anything (clothing, paper, a trash can, etc.), and the cover should be left in place.  The room should be closed off to prevent others from entering.  The person discovering the package should then wash their hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any powder to the face, make a list of all people who were in the room or area when the package was discovered, and 9-1-1 should be called.

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracisAnthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic lower vertebrates (cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes and other herbivores), but can also occur in humans when they are exposed to infected animals or tissue from infected animals.

Further information about anthrax can be found on the Centers for Disease Control's website at www.cdc.gov.

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