Press Release

Minister issues protocol for dealing with suspected anthrax attack

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin, TD, has today (17 October 2001) issued a protocol for dealing with a suspected anthrax attack in Ireland. The protocol was finalised today by the expert committee established by the Minister to develop a contingency plan in the event of a biological attack.

“There is no reason to believe that Ireland is likely to be a target for biological or chemical warfare. Nevertheless, these guidelines are being issued as a precaution,” said the Minister.

The protocol deals with the procedures to be adopted in the event of a suspected anthrax attack and in particular patient treatment and management, post exposure guidelines etc.

Included with the protocol are guidelines for individuals and companies on how to deal with a suspect package believed to contain anthrax.

The protocol has been issued to the Fire Services, the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and the Directors of Public Health.

“Hospitals already have sufficient quantities of penicillin. Sufficient stocks of the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin have also been secured to be used to treat patients in the event of an attack,” said the Minister.

He advised that if a suspicious package or letter is received it should be placed the package in a plastic bag or other sealed container in order to prevent leakage. The room or premises should then be vacated and the Gardaí contacted immediately.