Department of Risk Management & Safety
Guidelines For Handling Suspicious Mail
Various office locations around the country have, and continue to receive threat letters through the mail. These letters may state that you have been exposed to anthrax or other biological materials. Additionally, these envelopes or packages may contain some type of powder or granules. The following information and recommendations (collected from various sources) are being provided to help you safely and effectively handle these types of incidents.
All campus personnel should maintain an enhanced awareness
of receipt of suspicious letters or packages.
Things to look for:
If you receive unexpected letters or packages with several of the above listed indicators, you should do the following:
If you are concerned about a particular envelope or package, DO NOT OPEN IT. There is no risk of a release of materials or risk of exposure to you if the envelope or package remains intact. Call 911 and inform the police dispatcher that you have a suspicious envelope or package.
If you open an envelope or package and you find a letter that contains a threatening message or states that you have been contaminated with anthrax or some other biological substance, and no substance is found:
If you open an envelope or package and you observe some type of powder, REMAIN CALM:
If any powder spills out of the envelope or package:
If there is a small explosion or release of an aerosol spray from a package:
People who may have been present in the room, but did not directly contact the letter or substance, are at minimal risk for exposure. Individuals not in the room at the time when the envelope or package was opened are not at risk.
For biological agents to be effective terrorist agents they must be aerosolized into an extremely fine mist that can be inhaled. This is a
technically difficult task. Generally, opening mail and handling biologically contaminated objects (e.g., those containing anthrax) are not sufficient activities to aerosolize particles. These organisms simply don't leap into one's body.Therefore, the likelihood of becoming infected through the inhalation route is extremely small.However, if you handle contaminated items with sores or cuts on your hands, there is a small probability that you could develop a cutaneous (skin) infection. In any scenario, prompt diagnoses and the availability of effective antibiotic treatments can lead to recovery from a potential infection. Anthrax is not contagious and cannot be transferred from person to person.
ContactsFor further information, please contact UVM Police Services at 656-FIRE (3473)
Department of Risk Management at 656-3242
Last modified February 06 2009 02:12 PM