County staff handling mail with caution after Anthrax scare by | RecordCourier.com

County staff handling mail with caution after Anthrax scare by

Jeff Munson Staff Writer

Douglas County departments are taking a vigilant approach to handling mail, with plans under consideration that would require mail room employees to dispose of unsolicited junk mail.

“We are discussing it as a means of reducing the amount of concern for our employees,” said Dick Mirgon, director of emergency management for Douglas County.

The move would be in response to incidents of mail tampering across the United States that involve possible anthrax poisonings.

“As of today, we have not changed the way we’ve done our mail. But our people are being more cautious with it and looking at it with security in mind,” Mirgon said Thursday.

County employees have not complained about the way mail is handled, Mirgon said. He added that one county mail room employee is a retired police officer.

“He knows what to look for,” Mirgon said.

Threats were reported in neighboring Carson City and Reno, where law enforcement and health officials have responded to a rash of hoaxes in the past two weeks.

A Douglas County public health nurse said her office has received about 20 phone calls from residents concerned about anthrax.

“Most of the calls have been from people who want to know if they are at risk for anthrax and smallpox,” the nurse said. “We provide them information and guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, but mostly we’re here to alleviate their fears.”

The nurse, who wished not to be identified, said the county does not supply antibiotics, such as Cipro, to treat anthrax exposure, but if people are concerned, they can speak with their doctors.

She added there are no anthrax vaccines available to the public, only the military.

In the past month, county officials have called on residents to be watchful of any suspicious activities near their workplaces and neighborhoods and to report anything out of the ordinary to authorities.

Mirgon said he’s been in contract with casino officials in the Valley and in Stateline, who have told him they’re also working under a heightened sense of caution over mail.

“There is clearly concern out there, but the people I’ve talked with said they’re just being more vigilant in the way they conduct business,” Mirgon said.

— Staff writer Jeff Munson can be reached at munson@swiftnews.com