Five metro areas to receive grants to fight anthrax

Five metropolitan areas that have demonstrated the ability to deliver anthrax antibiotics through the National Postal Model will receive a total of $400,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The grants fund planning and exercises incorporating U.S. Postal Service workers into community plans to deliver medication after an anthrax bioterrorism attack, the News Eagle reports.

The Boston Public Health Commission, the Philadelphia Department of Health, the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Board in Kentucky and the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency will each receive $50,000 grants for initial planning and exercises. The Minneapolis Department of Health, will receive a $200,000 grant to conduct a full-scale exercise simulating an anthrax attack in the metropolitan area.

If a full-scale anthrax attack were to occur, everyone potentially exposed to anthrax would need to receive an initial supply of antibiotics within 48 hours. Under the NPM, volunteers from the USPS would pick up antibiotic packages at an established location and, protected by law enforcement officers, would deliver the antibiotics to homes in predetermined ZIP codes.

“The fatality rate for people whose lungs are infected with anthrax is extremely high if they do not receive antibiotic treatment, which means the quicker health professionals can get antibiotics into people’s hands, the quicker we can protect health and save lives,” Dr. Nicole Lurie, the assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response, said, according to the News Eagle. “The postal model offers an additional tool for local health departments to begin treating people potentially exposed to anthrax.”

This method would augment existing dispensing plans that ask residents and visitors to go to special medication dispensing sites.