Contact: USDA Office of Communication (202) 720-4623
Kevin Herglotz (202) 720-4623
Jerry Redding (202) 720-6959
TRACE AMOUNT OF ANTHRAX FOUND IN ECONOMIC RESEARCH SERVICE MAILROOM
WASHINGTON, October 29, 2001- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed that trace amounts of
anthrax have been identified in the mailroom of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) office located at 1800 M Street, N.W. in Washington, D.C.
USDA confirmed the test results late Monday afternoon and immediately reported the results to local authorities and began coordination of precautionary measures directly with the Public Health Service of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Homeland Security.
The ERS office receives its mail from the Brentwood postal
facility, which previously tested positive for anthrax. Environmental air samples taken from the ERS mailroom on Friday were negative. However, preliminary test results received today from a surface swab sample showed a trace number of anthrax spores to be present.
The ERS mailroom has been closed until additional samples and test results are complete.
Nearly 400 USDA employees work at the office. Testing of all other Washington, D.C. area USDA mailroom facilities began last Thursday. To
date, no other samples have tested positive for traces of anthrax.
Last week, as recommended by the Public Health Service of the Department of Health and Human Services, USDA contacted employees and contractors who work in or frequent mailrooms to receive a ten-day supply of antibiotics while mail handling facilities are being tested.
The USDA is committed to taking recommended precautions to protect the health and safety of its employees, and will continue to work with public health
authorities to ensure the proper steps are taken to keep employees safe.