Louisville postal workers to deliver medicine in emergencies [Opinion: The Arena]

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USPS volunteers will deliver medication, in case of bioterrorism attack

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds;” including, when necessary, the delivery of life-saving medicine in the event of bioterrorist attack.

doxycycline_box.jpgMayor Greg Fischer, along with officials from the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the metro and state public health departments yesterday announced an agreement whereby postal letter carriers would deliver supplies of the antibiotic doxycycline to residential addresses throughout the Louisville metro area after a terrorist attack using an air-borne biological agent such as anthrax. The medication would be delivered within 48 hours of the attack.

“Creating a safer city and a healthier city are two top priorities and this agreement puts us at the cutting edge of national efforts to protect our citizens,” Fischer said. “Louisville will become the national model in that our plan includes door-to-door delivery to citizens in both urban and rural ZIP Codes.”

“Louisville is one of only two cities in the U.S. to establish a plan under the National Postal Model,” said Edward J. Gabriel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Other cities across the country will be watching closely to learn how to apply this model in their own communities.”

mailman_xlarge.jpg“In the event of an attack, it would be important to get doxycyline to our citizens as quickly as possible – within 48 hours,” said Metro Public Health and Wellness director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt.

“If people inhale anthrax spores, bacteria can infect the lungs. Once the lungs are infected, the result can be extremely serious with a high fatality rate. Deaths from anthrax can be drastically reduced and in many instances disease can be avoided altogether if we get people started on antibiotics within 48 hours. This agreement allows us to do that,” said Dr. Nesbitt.

Quantities of antibiotics sufficient to treat the entire Louisville population would be delivered by the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from a supply known as the Strategic National Stockpile.

“During an emergency here, the Louisville mayor would request that the governor order needed supplies, in this case doxycyline, from the Strategic National Stockpile,” said Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, Director of Division of Epidemiology and Health Planning of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “Using pre-established protocols, the Kentucky Department for Public Health would then contact the CDC to order up the medications. The medications would arrive in Louisville no later than twelve hours after they were requested, and probably much sooner.”

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