Calls on suspected anthrax substances fall off sharply
YOUNGSTOWN -- Calls to the Mahoning County and Youngstown City Health Departments about substances suspected to be anthrax have fallen off dramatically in the last couple of weeks.
At Thursday's Mahoning County Health Board meeting, Rick Setty, director of the Environmental Health Division, said calls about anthrax tapered off the week of Nov. 12.
Similarly, Neil Altman, Youngstown city health commissioner, said his department has not received an anthrax-related call for more than two weeks.
Neither public health official was sure why the number of calls has fallen off. Setty speculated that perhaps people are becoming educated about anthrax and how to handle mail and are coming to terms with a changed world.
Altman said he senses there is still a lot of panic in the general population. However, none of the substances sent to the Ohio Department of Health for examination has tested positive for anthrax.
Smallpox seems to be the new concern, at least judging from information received by the health departments from the Center for Disease Control.
Altman said the CDC communications have centered around having large amounts of vaccine available for smallpox, which has been virtually eradicated for years.