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Monday, July 28, 2014

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No anthrax found in envelope received at Woodrow Wilson School

University was notified by local authorities at noon Nov. 13 that tests showed no anthrax contamination in a suspicious letter that was received at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs on Tuesday, Nov. 6. At this point, there are no reasons to be concerned about the contents of the letter.

A hazmat team was called in last Tuesday to remove the letter from Robertson Hall in the Woodrow Wilson School, and law enforcement authorities sent it for testing at a state laboratory. Robertson Hall was closed from about 11 a.m. until shortly after 2 p.m., with no one permitted to enter or leave the building. An enclosed office on the first floor was decontaminated and was kept secure until the test results were received.

At a briefing for people who were in the building, public safety officials said the letter had no return address on the envelope. The envelope contained an oily substance, described as having the consistency of paint, that was wrapped in plastic. The unsigned letter, which was mailed from Canada, was placed in a plastic bag and then double-bagged and removed.

No powder was seen, and the officials said there was nothing to suggest that the substance could have been released into the air. The ventilation system was turned off as another standard precaution.

The two staff members who handled the letter were offered antibiotics as a precaution, and the risk to them is considered minimal.

Since there was no evidence of aerosolization of the substance, there is no reason at this time to treat others in the building who were not in the immediate area and did not handle the letter, said Dr. Janet Neglia, director of clinical services at University Health Services. However, as always, people should be aware of the symptoms of anthrax and report a change in health status or skin condition for investigation, she said.

All members of the Princeton community are advised to review guidelines for handling suspicious mail. Anyone who receives a piece of suspicious mail, should not open it and should call the University's Department of Public Safety at 911 or 258-3134.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601

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