Mail Security

Due to recent concerns regarding the safety of mail products, the Secretary of Administration, Secretary of Health and Environment and Superintendent of Highway Patrol of the State of Kansas have prepared guidelines on how to identify and respond to suspicious mail. These guidelines are attached - it is recommended you read them and review this procedure with anyone coming in contact with suspicious mail.


KDHE Division of Health

Procedure Guide for Responding to the Receipt of Envelopes or Packages of Suspicious or Unknown Origin

Many facilities in communities around the country are dealing with concerns about bioterrorism threat letters, suspicious envelopes or packages with particular concerns about anthrax.

1. Don't Overreact.

Anthrax can cause illness in several ways: skin infection, gastrointestinal infection or inhalation (lung) infection. To cause illness, the organism must be rubbed into skin that is cut or abraded, swallowed or inhaled as a fine mist. It is not contagious from one person to another; in other words, you can't "catch it" from someone else. Soap kills anthrax on the skin. All forms of anthrax are generally treatable with antibiotics.

For anthrax to cause lung infection, it must be aerosolized (that is, spread in the air) in very small particles (about 1/10,000th of an inch, smaller than a red blood cell). Producing particles this small is very difficult, and usually requires a great deal of technical skill and special equipment. When handling or opening mail, attention to the procedures below should provide ample protection against anthrax infection. In the event an exposure does occur, it is important to obtain medical attention so antibiotics can be started promptly.

Anthrax cannot be aerosolized through he simple act of opening an envelope or package containing powder. In theory, if someone opening an envelope or package with powder deliberately inhales the powder, a lung infection could result.

2. Use Common Sense with Unsolicited or Suspicious Packages; it is never wise to smell or sniff substances of unknown origin.


These step-by-step procedures should be followed in various situations.

Unopened letter or package, or letter that appears empty - No threat message or visible powder:

If you receive a letter, package, or other item that is not accompanied by a threat and not leaking powder, the risk of anthrax or harm from another biological agent is small. If you receive a package that concerns you that has not threat attached and no leaking powder, talk it over with your supervisor or University Police at 235-4624 or local law enforcement (Pittsburg Police, 231-1700). If law enforcement does not recommend you do otherwise, use the following procedure:

  • Double bag the letter or package in plastic (trash bag is fine) and place in trash.
  • Wash hands with SOAP and WATER.
  • No medical attention or individual disinfection recommended.

Package marked with or containing threatening message such as "Anthrax":

  • If package or letter is not open, DO NOT OPEN IT.
  • LEAVE it and EVACUATE the room.
  • KEEP others from entering the room.
  • NOTIFY your supervisor, then call University Police at 235-4624 or local law enforcement (Pittsburg Police, 231-1700).
  • NOTIFY the Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention at 785-296-2951 or 1-877-427-7317.
  • No medical attention or individual disinfection recommended.

Open envelope or package with powder, or powder spills out onto surface of unopened letter or package.

  • DO NOT clean powder up. Do not touch it. Keep others away.
  • WASH hands with SOAP and WATER
  • DO NOT brush off your clothes.
  • EVACUATE the room.
  • NOTIFY your supervisor, then call University Police at 235-4624 or local law enforcement (Pittsburg Police, 231-1700). Law enforcement will assure proper custody and packing of the letter or package.
  • NOTIFY the Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention at 785-296-2951 or 1-877-427-7317.
  • REMOVE clothing as soon as a change of clothing is available and put on fresh clothing.
  • PLACE the clothing you were wearing in a plastic bag. Then wash your hands with SOAP and WATER. In most cases, you can clean the clothes you were wearing with your regular wash, using the regular laundry cycle. However, if the clothes are visibly contaminated with powder, discard them after double bagging in plastic.
  • SHOWER with SOAP and WATER as soon as possible at home.
  • MAKE list of all people who had direct contact with the powder and give the list to local public health authorities. Public health and safety officials will recommend any necessary medial attention or individual decontamination.

Opening package or letter produces a cloud of dust or a small explosion, or the letter states "Anthrax in heating or AC System":

  • LEAVE room immediately; tell everyone in the room to leave with you.
  • SECURE (lock if possible) entry to room.
  • NOTIFY your supervisor.
  • SHUT down the air handling system.
  • NOTIFY University Police at 235-4624 or local law enforcement (Pittsburg Police, 231-1700).
  • NOTIFY the Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention at 785-296-2951 or 1-877-427-7317.
  • REMAIN on the premises (but outside the room where the problem occurred) until responders arrive.
  • MAKE list of all people who may have directly breathed the dust or smoke and give it to local public health authorities. Public health and safety officials will recommend any necessary medical attention or individual decontamination.

Contact Numbers

KDHE Epidemiology........................................877/427-7317
Campus Police............................................620/235-4624
Pittsburg Police.........................................620/231-1700
Kansas Highway Patrol....................................785/827-4437