Suspicious Packages

How to Handle Threats of Anthrax or Other Biological Agents

  • DO NOT PANIC
  • Anthrax organisms can cause infection in the skin, gastrointestinal system, or lungs. To do so, the organism must be rubbed into abraded skin, swallowed, or inhaled as a fine, aerosolized mist. Disease can be prevented after exposure to the anthrax spores by early treatment with appropriate antibiotics. Anthrax is not spread from person to person.
  • For anthrax to be effective as a covert agent, it must be aerosolized into very small particles. This is difficult to do and requires a great deal of technical skill and special equipment. If these small particles are inhaled, life-threatening lung infection can occur, but prompt recognition and treatment are effective.

For Suspicious Unopened Envelopes or Packages Marked with Threatening Messages:

  • Do not shake or empty the contents of any suspicious envelope or package.
  • Place any suspicious envelope or package in a plastic bag or other type of container to prevent the contents from leaking.
  • If you do not have a container, cover the envelope or package with anything (e.g., clothing, paper, trash can, etc.) and do not remove this cover.
  • Leave the room and close the door or section off the area to prevent others from entering (i.e., keep others away).
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any substance to your face.
  • Report the incident to University Police at 911 (from a campus phone) or 777-2393 (from any phone) and notify your building security official or an available supervisor.
  • If possible, list all people who were in the room or area when the envelope or package arrived. Give this list to responding authorities.

For Envelopes or Packages That Have Been Opened and Contain Powder:

  • Do not try to clean up any powder. Cover any spilled contents immediately with anything (e.g., clothing, paper, trash can, etc.) and do not remove this cover.
  • Leave the room and close the door or section off the area to prevent others from entering (i.e., keep others away).
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any powder to your face.
  • Report the incident to University Police at 911 (from a campus phone) or 777-2393 (from any phone) and notify your building security official or an available supervisor.
  • Arriving emergency personnel will assist you with the following tasks:
  • Remove heavily contaminated clothing and place in a plastic bag or other container that can be sealed. Give this clothing to responding emergency personnel.
  • Receive medical evaluation and follow-up information from medical personnel
  • Before leaving the scene, shower with soap and water as soon as possible. Do not use bleach or other type of disinfectant on your skin.
  • If possible, list all people who were in the room or area, especially those who had actual contact with the powder. Give this list to responding authorities.
  • If There Is Question of Room Contamination by Aerosolization (e.g., a device is triggered or a warning is received that a ventilation system is contaminated or that a biological agent has been released in a public space):
  • Turn off local fans and ventilation units in the area.
  • Leave the area immediately.
  • Close the door or section off the area to prevent others from entering (i.e., keep others away).
  • Report the incident to University Police at 911 (from a campus phone) or 777-2393 (from any phone) and notify your building security official or an available supervisor.
  • If possible, shut down the ventilation system in the building.
  • If possible, list all people who were in the room or area. Give this list to responding authorities.

How to Identify Suspicious Envelopes or Packages

  • A suspicious envelope or package might include the following:
  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed address
  • Incorrect title
  • Title without name
  • Misspelling of common words
  • Oily stain, discoloration, or odor
  • No return address
  • Excessive weight
  • Lopsided or uneven envelope
  • Protruding wires or aluminum foil
  • Excessive security material such as masking tape, string, etc.
  • Visual distractions
  • Ticking sound
  • Restrictive endorsements, such as "personal" or "confidential"
  • City or state in the postmark that does not match the return address

Last Updated: 12/21/15