Anthrax anxiety

Americans’ daily routines were casualties of the Sept. 11 tragedies. Activities that were once done with little thought – from air travel to spending a night in the city – now require a keen awareness of our surroundings. With the latest anthrax scares, Americans and GW students now must also exercise caution even when we open our mail.

The discovery of anthrax in this city and the infection of a D.C. postal worker leaves this city in a high state of alert. Many GW students intern on Capitol Hill, where a letter addressed to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) contained the disease. Many have flocked to Student Health and other health clinics in the area to be tested. With widespread reports of letters baring the white powder showing up in New York, Florida and D.C., students are on edge because this incident strikes so close to home.

This uneasiness has been stirred by a number of suspicious packages here on campus that turned out to be innocuous as well as a white powder that was found on the floor of the men’s locker room in the Health and Wellness Center Thursday. While Metropolitan Police determined there was no threat, the University took the right precautions to help alleviate concerns and should investigate the situation thoroughly.

While anthrax is potentially deadly, antibiotics such as Cipro can treat it. Although it is discouraged to use antibiotics unnecessarily, students who believe they may have been exposed to the bacteria should take the appropriate precautions and see a doctor.

Students must also take the University’s heightened security level seriously and avoid any “jokes” that could unnecessarily dilute police resources. University officials have said they will take any hoaxes seriously, even to the point of expulsion – something that should rightfully deter such an act.

On top of the worry comes a scary taste of reality: at least one student has tested positive for anthrax exposure. With the city on heightened alert, students must keep their eyes and ears open and not joke around with issues of national security.

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