Follow-up of deaths among U.S. Postal Service workers potentially exposed to Bacillus anthracis--District of Columbia, 2001-2002

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003 Oct 3;52(39):937-8.


In October 2001, two letters contaminated with Bacillus anthracis spores were processed by mechanical and manual methods at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Brentwood Mail Processing and Distribution Center in the District of Columbia. Four postal workers at the Brentwood facility became ill with what was diagnosed eventually as inhalational anthrax; two died. The facility was closed on October 21, and postexposure prophylaxis was recommended for approximately 2,500 workers and business visitors. Subsequent reports of deaths of facility workers prompted concern about whether mortality was unusually high among workers, perhaps related to the anthrax attacks. To evaluate the rates and causes of death among workers at the Brentwood facility during October 12, 2001-October 11, 2002, CDC, in collaboration with state and local health departments, analyzed death certificate data. In addition, these data were compared with aggregate mortality data from the five USPS facilities contaminated with B. anthracis during the fall 2001 anthrax attacks. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which indicate that rates and causes of death among Brentwood workers during the 12 months after the anthrax attacks of 2001 were not different from rates and causes of deaths that occurred during the preceding 5 years.

MeSH terms

  • Anthrax*
  • Bacillus anthracis*
  • Bioterrorism*
  • Cause of Death*
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Postal Service / statistics & numerical data*
  • Spores, Bacterial*