If you receive a bioterrorism threat or hear rumors of a threat,
you should dial 911 or contact your local law enforcement authorities
immediately. In most cases, threats of bioterrorism are hoaxes, but
the threat should still be taken seriously and reported immediately
to local law enforcement. In recent years, most false threats in the
U.S. have alleged contamination with anthrax.
If you receive something,
such as a letter that alleges contamination with a biological agent,
call 911 immediately.
- First, do not panic. Most threats turn out to be hoaxes.
- Avoid contact with the item.
- Immediately put the item down and do not open the item.
- Stay where you are and wait for public safety authorities to
- Notify other people not to enter the area where the threat has
- Turn off any fans, air conditioners or heaters.
- If you have already touched the item, avoid touching your face
or mouth and immediately wash your hands.
- Local law enforcement and public health officials will determine
if decontamination from a biological agent is warranted. If this
does occur, persons may be advised to remove clothing and personal
effects, place all items in plastic bags and shower using plenty
of soap and water. Local law enforcement officials would collect
any possibly contaminated materials for testing.
Prepared by the Virginia Department of Health’s
Office of Epidemiology, September 2001.