Philippines warns citizens of anthrax envelopes

A Philippines Department of Health official cautioned the public Friday to be careful in opening letters from suspicious or unknown senders to avoid the threat of hazardous biological materials.
Dr. Eric Tayag, the assistant secretary of the DoH, issued the warning after two employees of the Lufthansa cargo office came in contact with a letter suspected to contain a biohazard material last Monday, the Manila Bulletin reports. The employees were decontaminated at the DoH's compound Friday and officials are awaiting laboratory tests conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to evaluate the nature of the material contained in the envelope.
The long white envelope was sealed in an zipped airtight plastic bag before it was brought to the DoH and sent to the RITM.
“If you received a letter without a sender and you are not expecting any letter, do not just open it," Tayag said, according to the Manila Bulletin. "It is better to be safe but do not also ignore it. Coordinate with the authorities."
The 2001 anthrax attacks, when letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several different offices in the United States, killed five people and infected 17 others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anthrax infection can occur in three forms - inhalation, cutaneous and gastrointestinal. When inhaled, anthrax infection resembles a cold at first and may progress into shock and severe breathing problems. Without treatment, inhalation anthrax can be fatal.