Ventura County Health Officials Provide Information to Doctors about Anthrax
Ventura County health officials announced Monday that they have begun mailing educational videos and tip sheets about anthrax to doctors and medical organizations in an effort to "stem a flood of inquiries" about the disease, the Los Angeles Times reports. "We are getting calls every day from people who are asymptomatic (but) who are requesting testing for exposure to anthrax, and from people who have colds, and from physicians who have patients with sore throats who want to be tested," Dr. Paul Russell, a county public health spokesperson, said. There have been no reported anthrax cases in California. County health officials also said they are creating a Web site in coordination with several local government agencies that will provide information about bioterrorism and safety measures. They also urged local doctors not to refer patients to the public health office for "treatment of undiagnosed illnesses" because the department does not evaluate patients. A letter written by Dr. Robert Levin, the county's top health officer, and sent to every doctor in the region, advises doctors to pursue laboratory testing for anthrax when "specific symptoms exist" in a patient and to "rule out several other diseases using a county-drafted checklist." The letter also cautions against the "unwarranted widespread use of antibiotics" by patients fearing anthrax. Over the next few days, medical groups across the county will receive a video titled, "Anthrax, What Every Clinician Should Know," which was prepared by local health officials with assistance from the CDC (Wolcott, Los Angeles Times, 10/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.