Suspicious Mail and Packages
Report any suspicious mail or packages immediately to the Trent Campus Security @ 705-748-1333 (Peterborough) or 905-435-5111 (Oshawa).
You should be suspicious of mail with any of the following traits:
- unusual thickness, weight or size.
- "cut and paste" lettering, improvised labels, or obviously disguised script.
- unusual odours, dust or powder adhering to the envelope or package, or oily/greasy stains.
- the feeling of springiness, metallic components or stiffeners in letters.
- excessive postage.
- small holes, protruding wire, string or metal foil.
- excessive wrapping, binding or tying materials.
- unbalanced or lopsided letters or parcels, or letters that appear to have something other than folded paper inside.
- undecipherable or no return address / incorrectly or inappropriately addressed mail.
- unusual or unexpected point of origin, unusually restrictive markings such as "personal", "to be opened only by", "fragile", "rush" or "do not delay delivery" or inaccuracies in the address or title of the recipient.
If such a package or letter is discovered - do not handle it. Contact Campus Security immediately at 705-748-1333 (Peterborough) or 905-435-5111 (Oshawa) and follow these instructions:
- If possible, have the building ventilation turned off and turn off any fans in the area.
- Do not handle the package or remove it from the room.
- Vacate the area immediately and ensure no one else enters it.
- Ensure that all persons who have touched the mail piece wash their hands with soap and water
- List all persons who have touched the letter and/or envelope. Include contact information and provide it to Trent Security and EMS when they arrive.
If you have opened a suspicious package or letter and observe powder or powder has spilled onto a surface:
- Do not clean up or otherwise disturb the powder.
- Cover the container or package if possible
- Do not move or show the contents to other people.
- Move away from the immediate threat (i.e. room) but stay in the area.
- Emergency responders will advise you of the most effective way to decontaminate your person, clothing and the area when they arrive, as well as any medical treatment if required.
- Follow additional instructions in list above (i.e. vacate area, contact Emergency Report Center, etc)
Information about Anthrax
In 2001, the United States was a target of anthrax attacks mounted by domestic terrorists. There have been no reported cases of anthrax contaminated mail in Canada, although there have been about 70 false alarms or hoaxes reported across the country. Consequently, at this time, the threat of anyone at Trent University receiving contaminated mail is minimal.
Other Ontario universities have reported a number of false alarms and hoaxes, the most recent being in September of 2006. Since the anthrax infected mail in the U.S. has been associated with a white dust or powder, drywall dust, house dust, sugar and baby or talcum powder spills have all been reported to campus authorities as possible anthrax cases. At one university, a student sealed an envelope, wrote "anthrax" on it and slipped it under another student's door in residence. When the Police, Fire department and Hazmat (hazardous materials) Teams arrived, the student confessed what he had done and was charged criminally.
About the Disease
Anthrax is the oldest known disease in the world and is naturally occurring in the soil. The disease is caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacteria, which is transmitted by spores. These spores are exceptionally hardy, allowing them to survive for centuries. This hardiness also makes them suitable for biological warfare as they are not destroyed by heat, cold, sunlight or water like other biological agents.
The disease can be contracted in three forms: cutaneous, gastrointestinal and inhalation anthrax. It is not contagious in any other manner.
Cutaneous anthrax occurs when the spores enter a cut, scrape or sore in the skin. The disease initially manifests as a dark, itchy bump, like an insect bump. It then develops into an open sore with a black center. The disease can be successfully treated with antimicrobial drugs. Untreated, death may occur in about 20% of cases.
Gastrointestinal anthrax occurs when the spores are ingested. The symptoms are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics. If untreated, this form of anthrax may result in death in 20 to 60% of cases.
Inhalation anthrax occurs when the spores are inhaled. It takes inhalation of approximately 5,000 to 10,000 spores to infect a healthy adult. Flu like symptoms (aches, fever, fatigue, coughs, mild chest pain) develop soon after infection. If the condition is not treated with antibiotics within the first few hours, death is likely to occur within three days.