[Skip to Content]

University Hospital's Health Connections establishes community hotline for information about biological agents

University Hospital's Health Connections has added a new telephone hotline to its audio library in an effort to give Central New Yorkers timely and accurate medical information about biological agents. The hotline can be accessed 24 hours a day by calling Health Connections at 315-464-8668, press the number 1 twice then press the number 2-9-9-9 to hear a recorded message. To talk with a nurse, press the star key.

Health Connections' nurses have been trained in domestic emergency preparedness and response by attending the U.S. Army and FBI courses.

The first hotline topic, created by the CNY Poison Control Center, Health Connections and University Hospital's Department of Emergency Medicine, offers general information about anthrax. The text reads:

"Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by a spore-forming bacteria. It most commonly occurs in the wild, affecting animals, but it can also occur in humans infected by animals or by biological warfare.

Anthrax infection can occur in three forms: skin (cutaneous), respiratory (inhalation) and gastrointestinal. Symptoms vary depending on the three forms but usually occur within 7 days.

  • Cutaneous (skin) infection begins as a raised itchy bump resembling an insect bite then progresses to a painless ulcer with a black center
  • Intestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain
  • Respiratory symptoms resemble a common cold and after several days the symptoms become much more severe
Anthrax is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person. Anthrax treatment is possible with specific antibiotics. The rarest form, inhalational anthrax, is also the most dangerous and must be treated before symptoms develop.

It is not advisable to take antibiotics unnecessarily or unprescribed as you may become resistant to the antibiotic. And, do not stockpile antibiotics, because you may create a shortage in the event of a true crisis."

The Health Connections hotline serves as an educational resource for Central New Yorkers. For more specific information about anthrax and other biological agents, individuals may call the CNY Poison Control Center's 24-hour hotline at 315-476-4766 or the Onondaga County Health Department at 315-435-3280, any day between the hours of 7 a.m. to midnight.