Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

October 15, 2001

University Community urged to take precautions regarding suspicious letters/packages

In light of recent media coverage concerning anthrax threat letters in the United States, Nancy Sullivan, vice-president (finance and administration) is reminding the University community of the steps that should be taken if you encounter any suspicious letters/packages and ways to detect suspicious letters/packages.

If you or your staff become suspicious of a package or letter, please contact University Police immediately at extension 2000. If you are at a location other than the main Guelph campus, please contact your local police department immediately and then advise University Police at extension 2000.

University of Guelph Police Mail Screening Checklist

Staff responsible for incoming mail should maintain an awareness of the possibility of anthrax threat letters. This checklist outlines common features of anthrax threat letters:

  • No return address

  • Excessive postage

  • Hand written or poorly typed address

  • Misspelling of common words

  • Restrictive markings such as “confidential,” “personal,” etc.

  • Excessive weight and/or a feel of a powdery substance

  • Wrong title with the name

For more information on handling suspicious mail, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control web page. ( )

The University Police suggest that all “junk mail” not be opened and be thrown away immediately. If you are not aware of who the sender of your mail is, do not open it. If you receive a letter or a note threatening anthrax contamination, remain calm. Any threatened use of biological agent must be treated as though it is real. If the suspected biological agent is reported as anthrax, be assured that it is NOT contagious, and that treatment is readily available if administered before the onset of symptoms. For more facts on anthrax, please refer to the CDC web site.

What you should do if you come into contact/open a suspicious letter

  • If it is a letter that you have opened, set it down gently at the location where you first read it.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap immediately.

  • Avoid contact with others when possible and remain in the area.

  • If it is a note that you happen to find, leave it alone.

  • Advise a co-worker in the immediate area what has happened and ask them to call University Police at extension 2000. Emergency response workers will contact you.

  • Do not allow others into the area. If anyone enters, they should stay until instructed to leave by the emergency responders.

  • Exposure does not mean that you will become sick. Emergency responders will provide specific information and instructions about the symptoms and effective treatment to prevent illness.

What you should NOT do

  • Do not pass the letter on to others to look at.

  • Do not disturb any contents in the letter or note. Handling the letter may only spread the substance inside and increase the chances of it getting into the air.

  • Do not ignore the threat. It must be treated as real until properly evaluated.

What to do if you receive a threat by telephone

  • Call University Police at extension 2000.

  • Do not ignore the threat. It must be treated as real until properly evaluated.

  • Do not argue with or antagonize the caller.

  • Listen carefully to the caller so that you can recall the details later. Listen for background noise.

If you have any questions about these procedures, please call Keith McIntyre, director of security and services, at extension 2050.

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