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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 012-06
Thursday, February 23, 2006

DOHMH - MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (After Hours)
Sandra Mullin (smullin@health.nyc.gov)
Andrew Tucker (atucker@health.nyc.gov)


UPDATE ON INVESTIGATION OF INHALATION ANTHRAX CASE IN NYC RESIDENT

No Other Cases Reported; Three Additional Individuals Receiving Preventive Antibiotics

NEW YORK CITY – February 23, 2006 – The Health Department is continuing to work closely with the NYPD, FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pennsylvania health officials, and several other City, state and federal health and law enforcement agencies to investigate a case of inhalation anthrax in a New York City resident. All information obtained to date continues to indicate that this is a naturally occurring infection. Updates will continue as more information becomes available. The follow updates the initial February 22 announcement made by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg:

  • • The patient is still hospitalized. We remain in close contact with Pennsylvania hospital officials. The patient remains in stable condition.
  • • As of this morning, a total of 7 people exposed to the raw hides from the patient’s workspace have been started on preventive antibiotics as a precaution.
  • • Out of an abundance of caution, health and safety officials are evaluating a residence in Crown Heights, Brooklyn where three of the people placed on antibiotics live because raw unprocessed hides from the DUMBO location were brought into the residence and processed. The apartment where they live will be evaluated for anthrax contamination.
  • • Health and safety officials continue to monitor for any people who may have been exposed. No other cases or suspected cases of anthrax have been reported.
  • • This type of infection is extremely rare - the patient appears to have been at risk because of the type of work he did with unprocessed hides in a confined space. This work generated dust, known as aerosols, which could have spread anthrax to those who worked directly with the hides.
  • • In general, animal hides and pelts, which are frequently brought into the City, are not considered to pose a risk for inhalational anthrax.
  • • Drums do not pose a health risk, nor is there any risk for people who attended performances or who had contact with the patient.
  • • Evaluation of the storage facility, as well as the patient's van and apartment are ongoing. Samples from the residence are currently at the Health Department Laboratory and are being tested to determine if anthrax spores were present.
  • • The Brooklyn warehouse remains sealed while the investigation is ongoing.
  • • The West Village building is open to all its residents. The only apartment that’s sealed is the patient’s apartment.
  • • The Health Department will continue to provide information at the apartment buildings and the storage facility as needed.
  • • DOHMH will continue to update doctors and ask them to report any suspect cases of anthrax to the DOHMH.
Background Information on Feb 22 Announcement:

On February 22, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, FBI New York Field Office Assistant Director Mark J. Mershon and other health and safety officials announced the investigation of a case of inhalational anthrax in a 44-year-old Manhattan man. The man did artistic work with unprocessed animal hides. As such, while a full investigation will be conducted, the case is believed to be naturally occurring and not terrorist related. Other information announced included:

  • • The 44-year-old man, a Manhattan resident, became ill and was hospitalized while in Pennsylvania on February 16. Test results confirming anthrax were received from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the CDC on February 22nd.
  • • The man reportedly last worked on animal raw hides on February 15th in the storage space.
  • • The man works with African drums made with raw (unprocessed) animal hides. He stocked and worked with unprocessed animal hides in a storage facility in downtown Brooklyn. The storage facility and the man’s vehicle are reportedly the only places where the unprocessed hides were stored.
  • • Anyone who has concerns about being ill and having worked with raw (unprocessed) animal hides should contact their doctor.
  • • Doctors should report any suspected cases of anthrax to the Health Department immediately.
Information about Anthrax:

Anthrax is not known to spread from person-to-person. Anthrax is not passed through casual contact, such as sharing office space with a person with anthrax or living in the same building. Anthrax can be obtained by handling products from infected animals and by breathing in anthrax spores from infected animal products, such as wool and hides. Gastrointestinal anthrax can occur by eating meat that is contaminated with the spores.

For skin (cutaneous) anthrax, the first symptom is a skin sore that forms a blister. The blister then develops into a skin ulcer with a black area in the center. The sores, blisters, and ulcers are not painful.

For lung (inhalational) anthrax, the first symptoms may resemble the common cold. After several days, symptoms may progress to severe breathing difficulties and pneumonia.

For gastrointestinal anthrax, the first symptoms are nausea, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea, and fever, followed by bad stomach pain.

Symptoms can appear within 7 days of coming in contact with the bacterium for all three types of anthrax.

For more information about anthrax, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cd/cd-anthrax.shtml.

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Information for Building Residents of 31 Downing Street
Information for Workers at Pinnacle Self-Storage, 2 Prince Street, Brooklyn
Information for Health Care Providers
General Information about Anthrax