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News Release    

February 17, 2004      


County Responds to Threat of Anthrax Exposure

The Dutchess County Executive’s Office confirmed today that telephone threats of anthrax exposure were received on voicemail by the Probation Department this past weekend.

Law enforcement officials were notified early Monday morning upon learning of the telephone threats and the County Emergency Response plan was activated, prompting responses by the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, the Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response, and the Dutchess County Department of Health.

No physical evidence of the presence of anthrax was found at the Probation Department’s Main Office located on the first floor of 50 Market Street in the City of Poughkeepsie. Subsequent evaluation by the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office included other entities housed at 50 Market Street, and the Probation Department’s satellite offices. No evidence was found at these locations. Consultation and assistance was received from the FBI as well as the New York State Department of Health. As a result of the environmental assessments, the buildings were cleared for re-occupancy.

“Representatives from Emergency Response and the Sheriff’s office participated in all aspects of the investigations, utilizing established response protocols, “ stated DeWitt Sagendorph, Emergency Response Coordinator.

Probation Department’s Deputy Director, William Fluck, stated that employees assigned to this particular building were directed for an offsite briefing upon reporting to work on Tuesday morning following the Monday legal holiday. “Mail handling procedures were reviewed and employees were provided with information and resources to handle the situation and assist with the investigation,” he said.

Liz Piraino, President of the Dutchess County Unit of CSEA said, “I am satisfied that the County has taken all reasonable precautions to insure the safety of county employees and the public.”

“This situation is being handled in the same way we have handled similar threats of this nature. Our on-site investigations and inspections determined that there is no evidence of exposure to anthrax,” stated Sheriff Adrian Anderson. The criminal investigation is ongoing in conjunction with the FBI, and individuals with information should contact the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office at (845) 486-3800.

“The Dutchess County Department of Health is responding to the needs of this event,” said Michael C. Caldwell, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health. “Our primary concern is the safety of our employees and our community.”

Concerned individuals may obtain information about anthrax and proper mail handling on the county website at http://www.dutchessny.gov/ or http://www.cdc.gov/.

For Further Information Contact:
Michael C. Caldwell, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health
845-486-3432


 



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Last Updated: 8/13/2004