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MDPH Addresses Anthrax Scare

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has devised a public service print campaign designed to quell public fears over the recent dissemination of anthrax through the mail.

One announcement, entitled "What you need to know about bioterrorism," contains a message from DPH Commissioner Dr. Howard Koh and John Auerbach, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission.

"This is a time for all residents of Massachusetts to work together—families, friends and neighbors—to learn the facts and fight fear, the most infectious terrorism weapon of all," the ad reads in part.

It goes on to emphasize the low risk to the general public and the DPH's intention to respond immediately should an attack occur. In addition, the effort counsels consumers on how to handle suspicious substances and warns of the dangers of stockpiling antibiotics such as Cipro.

Informational Web sites from national and regional organizations are listed at the bottom of the ad.

The effort is mainly text and contains no art elements; at press time last week, no TV, radio or other components were planned. Other print media, however, are a possibility, according to DPH.

Full-page newspaper executions, intended for The Boston Globe and Boston Herald, were created by the DPH with pro bono assistance from Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston.

"We are all committed to the most effective outreach strategy in this uncertain time," Dr. Koh said, adding that whenever a potential public health threat arises, "the challenge is to put it in the proper perspective."

Hill, Holliday volunteered for its services at the behest of Partners HealthCare, one of its clients.

The Partners consortium includes eight hospitals in the Boston area, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

It has maintained an ongoing relationship with the DPH for years, according to a representative there. Hill, Holliday chairman/CEO Jack Connors is Partners' chairman of the board.