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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Anthrax scares jolt city residents; Falk urges citizens to remain calm

Four anthrax scares around the county worried local residents Friday as city and county departments rushed to aid and test employees of businesses receiving mysterious packages. 




County Executive Kathleen Falk said preliminary tests on the packages received at American Family Insurance, 302 N. Walbridge Ave., Certco, 5321 Verona Rd., the GEF2 state office building, 101 S. Webster St. and the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs building, 2400 Wright St., were negative for the bacteria that appeared in an NBC employee in New York Friday. 




'None of the materials investigated showed up any sign of anthrax,' she said. 




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'In the instance of the Department of Military Affairs, that suspicious package was not opened, it was handed over intact and unopened to the U.S. Postal Service,' said Topf Wells, executive assistant to the county executive. 'The powders in question at the other three sites ... were delivered to the State Lab for Hygiene.' 




Dr. Dennis Maki, UW-Madison professor of infectious disease, said it is unlikely that a case of anthrax would occur in the Madison area. 




'I think terrorists like to do things that involve large numbers of people and basically, I think their focus is a much larger metropolitan area,' Maki said. 'I think the likelihood of exposure to anthrax in Dane County is very low.' 




He added that while anthrax had not surfaced in Madison, the cases in Florida and New York City were not from the bacterial form that occurs in nature. 




'These [cases were] not naturally acquired. People don't naturally get anthrax in an office building or office setting,' Maki said. 




However, he said, people should not be so concerned about the threat of anthrax. 




'The anthrax that has resulted in people being exposed is probably a far less virulent form, and it's important for people to know that,' he said. 'I don't think people should be so upset about this all.' 




Falk said it was fortunate that county officials were prepared to deal with the situation. 




'Not only were we ready, but literally it was the day before this we had a training,' she said. 




Wells added that the county has taken measures to respond to situations as they occur. 




'I think Dane County and the City of Madison are better prepared to respond to incidents, but we don't know what could happen,' he said. 




Falk encouraged people to continue in their regular activities. 




'We ask people to stay calm and just be very vigilant about packages or things around them, exercise caution and stay calm,' she said.

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