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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2002
Contact: Nick Manetto 609-585-7878
Smith Asks Federal Health Officials to Study
Local Postal Workers Exposed to Anthrax
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-4) today asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct an extensive study of all people - especially local postal workers and customers - who were exposed to anthrax and treated with strong anti-anthrax medications during last fall's terror attacks.
Smith made the request after hearing from local postal employees who are concerned about long-term health consequences of both exposure to anthrax and the prolonged treatment regimens they were forced to endure.
"Exposure to anthrax and the potential health problems from this exposure is only one phase of the problem. The drugs used to prevent the growth of anthrax spores in people who were exposed are extremely potent and can cause many serious side effects. Many of the people exposed were on these drugs for more than three months. Our government must keep a close eye on these patients to make sure they are not suffering from either anthrax or the medications," Smith said.
"By conducting a thorough study, we will help ensure that the victims of this terror attack will be properly cared for should they need supplemental medical treatment or have adverse reactions in the years ahead," Smith wrote in his letter to Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the CDC.
Smith - who has written a law (PL 107-287) to more thoroughly research and combat biological and chemical terrorism - pointed out that a great deal of information about anthrax and other potential agents of terror remains unknown.
Smith also received encouraging news from the General Accounting Office (GAO) regarding his recent request for an investigation into the anthrax crisis. GAO officials have indicated they are moving forward with the two-pronged request that asks (1) how the crisis in Hamilton and the victims were treated differently than those in Washington and (2) how the Postal Service has responded to the prolonged closure of the Hamilton Post Office compared to other unexpected closings of major facilities.
"It is my hope that the GAO and CDC investigations will fully compliment each other to ensure that those people attacked last fall receive the proper care and treatment they need and that ultimately we obtain greater safety from future threats of terror," Smith said.