Local News

Anthrax Tests Keep Local Lab Workers Busy

Posted October 17, 2001

— Because of the anthrax scares, law enforcement and hazardous materials teams have responded to hundreds of suspicious substances and packages across North Carolina. Those that are not cleared on the scene are sent to Raleigh where they are tested at the state public health lab.

Instead of HIV and flu tests, state lab workers have been busy examining letters and packages. They take samples and grow cultures.

Instead of anthrax, 16 cases have turned out so far to be something harmless like starch or talcum powder. Still, from hazmat teams in the field to the techs in the lab, no one is taking any chances.

"We are concerned, heavily concerned, but I wouldn't say alarmed," said Dr. Samuel Merritt. "We treat each individual package as though it's the real thing because otherwise, we wouldn't need to be bothered by it."

In addition to the 16 cases already cleared, the state lab has a dozen more to test. Public Health leaders say if you have suspicions about your health, contact your doctor. Any blood or culture samples can be tested at the state lab.


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