Update on Safety Issues
Posted Dec. 6, 2001
Sanitized mail being delivered to campus
States Postal Service (USPS) has provided information
regarding the mail pieces that were held at the contaminated
Hamilton postal facility. All mail pieces have been or will
be irradiated at a facility in Bridgeport, NJ. A team of scientific
experts found the irradiation process to be effective in destroying
anthrax and recommended releasing this mail for delivery after
it has been treated. This team has assured the USPS that the
mail pieces are safe to handle.
As a precautionary measure to ensure the integrity of this
process, USPS will put all letter mail pieces in a clear plastic
bag and labels on packages and flats to alert customers that
the specific mail piece was irradiated and is safe to handle.
While we have been assured the irradiation process itself
is safe, it can cause some damage to some products that contained
within this mail. The products, identified by the scientific
team, should not be used if they were contained in a package
or envelope that has been irradiated. The products should
be discarded and replacements should be obtained.
For more details, see the full
Posted Nov. 13, 2001, noon
No anthrax found in envelope received at Woodrow
The University was notified by local authorities at noon on
Tuesday, 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.
For the complete story, click here.
Additional mail training sessions scheduled
Additional mail-handling training sessions have been scheduled
for noon Tuesday, Nov. 13, and Monday, Nov. 19, in Frist 302.University
members who handle bulk mail and have yet to attend a training
session are required to receive training before handling bulk
mail. The sessions are open to all University members.
The University is asking all of its community members to
review the anthrax threat guidelines available on the campus
emergency preparedness and response Web
site. There is no threat of anthrax associated with the
precautions are necessary due to the continuing national crisis.
Posted Nov. 12, 2001, 4:25 p.m.
Four local postal facilities cleaned, reopened after finding
trace amounts of anthrax spores
Friday afternoon, Nov. 9, the state Department of Health
released the results of environmental sampling for anthrax
contamination at 49 facilities that feed the Hamilton processing
Of 896 samples collected in 49 post offices, four samples
tested positive and a fifth sample has been resubmitted for
testing due to an uncertain result. Princeton Borough's Palmer
Square facility was among the post offices with a single positive
test result showing a trace amount of anthrax. The other facilities
are in Rocky Hill, Jackson Township and Trenton. The single
uncertain result is from the Allentown, N.J., post office.
Four of these facilities have been cleaned and reopened,
and the Allentown facility was being cleaned during the Veterans
Day holiday break.
This sampling was conducted as a follow up to the discovery
of apparent low level cross-contamination at the West Windsor
and Bellmawr, N.J., postal facilities in late October. In
response to these findings, both the Centers for Disease Control
and the New Jersey Department of Health are advising postal
service employees against the use of prophylactic antibiotics,
while urging employees to address any health concerns to their
health care providers.
The finding of four isolated positive samples is, according
to New Jersey State epidemiologist Eddy Bresnitz, M.D., "most
likely a case of cross contamination from letters that came
from the Hamilton mail processing facility in October. The
risk of any workers at these post offices developing anthrax
disease is extremely low."
At this point, there has not been a reported case of anthrax
symptoms in New Jersey in more than three weeks. The University
continues to encourage all individuals who handle mail to
follow the procedures discussed during the mail handling training
sessions held over the previous three weeks and the guidance
available on the mail handling Web page.
Counseling offered following New York plane crash on Nov.
Counseling assistance is available for members of the University
community who might have been affected by the jet airliner
crash in New York on Monday, Nov. 12.
Students may contact the Counseling
Center for help at 258-3285. Faculty and staff can call
Assistance Program for counseling help at 258-1875.
Center is also available to advise international students
and visiting scholars. They may be reached at 258-5006.
At 9:17 a.m. on Nov. 12, American Airlines Flight 587, an
Airbus A300 carrying 255 people, crashed in the Rockaway section
of Queens, a borough of New York City. It had left New York's
John F. Kennedy International Airport and was bound for Santo
Domingo, Dominican Republic. At least 16 people on the ground
were injured in the crash as well.
Click here for current news updates from CNN.
Posted Nov. 8, 2001, 4 p.m.
Updated guidelines on anthrax and mail handling posted
The Emergency Preparedness Task Force has posted updated
procedures for dealing with suspicious packages, general
precautions for mail handling, a description of anthrax symptoms,
and related information.
If you receive a suspicious package or envelope, please call
Public Safety at 911 or 8-3134. Do not worry about burdening
the Public Safety department. It is prepared to handle increased
If you receive a suspicious
item in the mail, follow the steps below:
- Do NOT shake, bump or try to OPEN the mail.
- If there is spilled powder, do not try to clean it up.
Do not smell, touch or taste the material.
- Either leave the mail where you found it, or carefully
place it in a clear, sealable plastic bag, such as a freezer-sized,
zip-lock bag. Do not attempt to open the mail inside the
- If you are wearing protective gloves, remove them and
place them in a sealable plastic bag.
- Calmly alert others in the immediate area. Leave the
area, closing the door behind you. Do not let anyone other
than safety officials enter the area.
- Wash your hands and exposed skin vigorously with soap
and flowing water for at least 20 seconds. Antibacterial
lotions that do not require water are not effective for
- Call Public Safety at 911 or 8-3134 and give them your
- Wait for Public Safety to respond. Do not leave the building
unless instructed to do so by Public Safety personnel.
Posted Nov. 8, 2001, 1 p.m.
Woodrow Wilson School open; no test results
A hazmat team Tuesday removed a suspicious letter from Robertson
Hall in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International
Affairs, and law enforcement authorities sent it for testing
at a state laboratory. An enclosed office on the first floor
was decontaminated and will be kept secure until the test
results are received.
University officials are communicating with state officials
and plan to report test results as soon as they are available.
On Tuesday, 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.
Because the letter is considered suspicious by law enforcement
authorities, testing is expected to proceed as quickly as
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.
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
The letter was immediately reported to public safety officials,
who notified local law-enforcement authorities. The Princeton
Borough police notified the Trenton hazmat team. The unsigned
letter, which was mailed from Canada, was placed in a plastic
bag and then double-bagged and removed.
The two staff members who handled the letter were offered
antibiotics as a precaution, and the risk to them is considered
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.
Those in the building will be notified directly when test
results are received. New information also will be promptly
posted on the University's home
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. (Click here
to download the FBI's .pdf
poster on suspicious mail.)
Posted Nov. 6, 2001, 1:19 p.m.
Held mail released to campus
The university's incoming mail that was held the last week
of October -- after the discovery of a very small amount of
anthrax at the main Princeton post office in West Windsor
-- is no longer on hold, as of Tuesday, Nov. 6. The United
States Postal Service has determined that there is no need
to decontaminate this mail.
In related news, the post office building on Roszel Road
in West Windsor reopened to the public on Monday, Nov. 5.
Posted Nov. 2, 2001
Nov. 2 update issued on safety and security measures
The following memo was sent to all students,
faculty and staff on Nov. 2 from Vice President for Finance
and Administration Richard Spies, who chairs the University's
emergency response and emergency preparedness task forces.
Earlier this week, an e-mail was distributed to all students,
faculty and staff encouraging them to regularly check the
home page, the crisis
response Web site and the Web site of the emergency
preparedness task force for frequently updated information
on steps being taken to address concerns about recent developments
regarding anthrax and other possible terrorist threats. This
email summarizes some of the steps that have been taken and
refers you to other helpful information. Please continue to
check these three Web sites regularly.
here to read the rest of the statment, which includes
the latest details about mail, health and safety issues.
Posted Oct. 29
No anthrax at Frist, test results negative
The University was notified Oct. 29 by state officials that
the final test results of the powdery substance found in Frist
Campus Center on Oct. 22 are negative, which means no anthrax
On Monday, Oct. 22, a student noticed a suspicious powdery
substance on a computer and its keyboard. The University took
precautionary measures, including calling a HAZMAT team that
decontaminated the area and sent the substance to the state
For more information, view Frequently
Oct. 25, 2001
McCosh on alert for flu-like symptoms
Princeton University Health
Services soon will have available quick-detection flu
kits that can rule out the likelihood of influenza. University
students who exhibit flu-like symptoms (fever, muscle aches
and cough) should seek care at McCosh Health Center.
People infected by inhalation anthrax
normally exhibit flu-like symptoms. Should University students
have flu-like symptoms, taking this test will help healthcare
providers in their diagnostic efforts.
Several reported cases of anthrax in
New Jersey and in
the nation have increased community fears that an anthrax
threat may occur on campus. University public safety and
health officials are taking appropriate precautions
and, to date, there has been no evidence of anthrax on campus.
If there is a high likelihood that someone has contracted
anthrax, treatment can be initiated at McCosh Health Center.
A one-day walk-in
clinic also is being sponsored by University Health
Services from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in Multipurpose
Room B, Frist Campus Center. At the clinic, flu and meningitis
vaccines will be available for University students.
Flu vaccine for employees is being offered
on Thursday, Nov. 1 and Friday, Nov. 2. Employees should
call 8-5035 for an appointment. Everyone is encouraged to
Posted Oct. 19, 2001
Task force formed
The University has formed an Emergency
Preparedness Task Force to review our existing planning
and preparedness efforts and develop appropriate responses
to credible threats to the health and safety of the University
Community. The task force Web
site will be updated frequently.
Since the attacks, the University has taken necessary
precautions and has increased security at public events including
athletics events and lectures. Communication and collaboration
with local law-enforcement and FBI officials have intensified,
and there is a stronger presence of municipal officers at
certain University events.
More specific information about security
plans will not be released, as widespread release undermines
effectiveness. If you have security-related concerns, please
call Public Safety at 258-3134.
Hazardous laboratory materials
No research takes place at Princeton involving the use
of anthrax or other materials identified as dangerous "select
agents" by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Anthrax and Bioterrorism
In the past few days, concerns over the threat of Anthrax
as a tool of terrorism have circulated widely in the media.
Several high profile offices in New York, Washington, D.C.
and other areas have received suspicious mail containing
traces of Anthrax.
Princeton University is providing useful
information, as it becomes available, so that our community
members can respond effectively should an incident occur
here. For more information about Anthrax, refer to the following
Threat Guidelines for Princeton University
to Handle Anthrax and Other Biological Agent Threats:
Official Advisory from Centers for Disease Control
FBI Advisory for
Suspicious Mail, (PDF
and Answers about Anthrax, Centers for Disease Control
You Should Know About Anthrax, NJ Department of Health
Preparedness & Response, NJ Department of Health
The University understands the widespread concerns regarding
travel at this time. We will be as flexible as possible
with absences or special needs prompted by current travel
Emergency financial support is available for students,
faculty or staff members who need to travel in response
to the ongoing national crisis. There are no strict guidelines;
each case is handled individually.
For more information, contact the Response
line at 258-7700. Undergraduate students should contact
the office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students at 258-3052.
Minor revisions have been made to academic-related undergraduate
travel abroad policies and procedures.
For more information, please read Provost
Amy Gutmann's Oct. 18, 2001
Health Services: Dr. Pamela Bowen, Director, 609-258-2300
or 609-258-3139 (24-hours)
Health and Safety: Don Robasser, University Sanitarian,
11 Preparedness and Response | University
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