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Wednesday, August 23

Behind the scenes

On Tuesday, August 22, a health care facility in Bradford County, Pennsylvania received a commercial mass-mailing envelope that contained a small quantity of powder. In an abundance of caution, two persons at the facility were decontaminated.

Two other Bradford County sites also reported receiving envelopes containing similar powder. An EIA rapid test conducted by a local lab on the first envelope was weakly positive for botulinum toxin. Samples were sent to the Laboratory Response Network (LRN), the State Health Dept Lab at Lionville, PA, where an initial test for botulinum was "indeterminate."

Final confirmatory tests using a mouse bioassay are in progress. Very early results from the mouse bioassay (at three hours) are negative. Despite the initial lab results, all data suggest this is NOT a terrorist incident. No one exposed to the powder has become ill. The FBI reports no terror threats have been received.

The mailing was part of a promotion by Positive Promotions in NY, sent to health care providers, hospices, home health organizations, and hospitals. The company has instructed individuals to discard these envelopes without opening them, to avoid further confusion.

It didn't mention what SORT of healthcare facilities they were (ie, women's clinics, family practice, nursing homes, etc) but still, keep this in mind when you go the the hospital and the RN is a bit bitchy.

Oh and this was sent out as a Health Alert, which conveys the highest level of importance; warrants immediate action or attention. So in other words, the powder MIGHT be cornstarch or it MIGHT be botulism (Botulinum toxin is the most poisonous substance known.6-7 A single gram of crystalline toxin, evenly dispersed and inhaled, would kill more than 1 million people) but lets not panic just yet.

Actually, I'm surprised the Homeland Security trolls haven't picked up on this just to up the fear factor in the general population. Luckily healthcare workers are notoriously hard to rattle.

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