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Bioterrorism Information

Some characteristics of suspicious packages and envelopes include:

  • Inappropriate or unusual labeling, such as
    • Excessive postage
    • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
    • Misspellings of common words
    • Strange return address or no return address
    • Incorrect titles or title without a name
    • Not addressed to a specific person
    • Marked with restrictions, such as "Personal,"
      "Confidential," or "Do not X-ray"
    • Marked with any threatening language
    • Postmarked from a city or state that does not match the return address
  • Unusual Appearance
    • Powdery substance felt through or appearing on the package or envelope
    • Oily stains, discolorations, or odor
    • Lopsided or uneven envelope
    • Excessive packaging material such as masking tape, string, etc.
  • Other suspicious signs
    • Excessive weight
    • Ticking sound
    • Protruding wires or aluminum foil

If a package or envelope appears suspicious, do not open it.

Handling of Suspicious Packages or Envelopes

Do not shake or empty the contents of any suspicious package or envelope.

  • Do not carry the package or envelope, show it to others or allow others to examine it.
  • If possible, put the package or envelope in a plastic bag to prevent leakage of the contents. If a bag or container is not available, cover the envelope with a trash can or box.
  • Do not sniff, touch, taste, or look closely at it or at any contents that may have spilled.
  • Alert others in the area about the suspicious item. Leave the area, close any doors, and take actions to prevent others from entering. Shut off fans and the ventilation system.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Notify your local law enforcement agency or follow other procedures established for this situation. If at work, also notify your supervisor.
  • Make a list of everyone who was in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized and a list of those who may have handled this package or letter. Give this list to law enforcement officials and local public health authorities.