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The Klingerman Virus

Now more than ever, knowledge is power -- but misinformation is alarmist and weakening. While the Internet is a phenomenal tool for facilitating the exchange of information, it has increasingly become a vehicle for the spread of falsehoods -- many of which are health scares.† A recent example is the widely circulated email about people who have been infected with a live virus after opening gift packages delivered to them in the mail. According to the e-mail message, a number of people became ill with a viral infection after handling a sponge contained in a package marked, "A gift for you from the Klingerman Foundation."†† Allegedly, this virus has been called the "Klingerman Virus".† According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), this e-mail is a hoax.† The CDC website asserts that "there is no Klingerman virus and the information in the e-mail notice is untrue. If you receive an e-mail message about a Klingerman virus, please do not forward it to others."

The CDC goes on to say that although the e-mail message is a hoax, if you are concerned about the contents of any package you receive in the mail, do not open it.† Instead, leave it outside of your home or office and contact your local post office. It is a criminal offense to send potentially hazardous agents through the mail for the purpose of causing harm to human health.† If such an incident occurs, dial 911 to notify local law enforcement authorities, the local FBI field office, and local and state public health authorities.

This warning to report suspicious packages or letters is especially important now that there have been cases of anthrax recently reported in Florida, New York, and Las Vegas. If you do open a letter containing a white powder, set it down carefully, put the letter and its contents in a zip-lock bag or other container, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and contact local law inforcement officials immediately.

How do you know if an e-mail you receive about a health threat is true or false?† Often, these e-mails seem convincing and are sent to you from someone you know and trust.† A good rule of thumb is that if you don't know if it's really true, don't pass it on.† A quick search on any Internet search engine can generally lead to more information.† And if it's a health-related concern, send it to webmaster@DrDonnica.com and we will look into it.

Created: 9/26/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.
Reviewed: 10/13/2001  -  

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