2 October 2008
US to make antibiotics available for postal workers and household members as CRI preparedness for anthrax
On October 1st the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that antibiotic kits could be made available to eligible postal letter carriers and members of their households for potential future use in the event of an anthrax emergency. These oral antibiotics would be used to protect the letter carriers who could be called upon to deliver additional antibiotics directly to the homes of person in the general population who may have been exposed to anthrax as part of one or more bioterrorist attacks.
Use of letter carriers to deliver antibiotics has been discussed as part of the US government’s “Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) since its inception in 2004. The CRI has more than doubled in size since 2004 such that it now includes 72 major US cities/metropolitan areas. One of the primary goals of the CRI is to deliver appropriate antibiotics to the entire exposed population (e.g., to aerosolized anthrax spores) population “within 48 hours of the decision to do so”.
As the point of contact for the Washington, DC Department of Health at the beginning of the Cities Readiness Initiative in the spring of 2004, one can appreciate the major obstacles faced from the beginning when trying to implement a realistic feasible plan to distribute all needed antibiotics within 48 hours.
This long-discussed action of providing antibiotic kits for letter carriers and their household members is an important step forward in this regard. Even so, the road ahead is still long.
Daniel R. Lucey, MD, MPH
EROne Institutes, Washington Hospital Center
Georgetown University Medical Center
Website for this posting: www.BePast.org