Rowland calls for calm and common sense amid rampant anthrax scares

Gov. John G. Rowland and other state officials appealed for calm Tuesday in the midst of more anthrax scares and threats of bioterrorism.

Though no cases of anthrax or any other bioterrorism have been found in Connecticut, state and local authorities have spent recent days racing from call to call — mostly from people terrified by white powdery substances.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said it has responded to 140 calls since a man in Florida was discovered to have anthrax earlier this month. The state Department of Public Health has been getting between 50 and 60 calls per day. The Department of Public Safety has responded to more than 50 reports of possible anthrax since this weekend, a spokesman said.

Hospitals around the state also report a huge influx of patients complaining of anthrax-like symptoms. Fear of the previously obscure disease is so widespread that some doctors are now referring to it as “anthraxophobia” — anxious patients who fear that somehow, some way, they’ve been exposed to anthrax.

Rowland urged people to remain calm “and trust their government.”

“I would ask people to use common sense — to think about whether the terrorists would attack the Stop & Shop in Naugatuck,” he said.

Rowland again warned that anyone responsible for an anthrax hoax could face up to five years in prison. Federal sentences are even stiffer.

–Associated Press

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