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Emergency message from the Iowa Department of Public Health: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

Due to the attacks today on the United States, we are asking everyone in the medical and health community to be alert to any potential biologic, chemical or radiologic component. Thus, if any unusual diseases or syndromes occur, especially in those who may have been on the east coast recently, please immediately contact the Center for Acute Disease Epidemiology (CADE) at 1-800-362-2736. While we do not, at this point, anticipate any use of these types of weapons, we need to have a heighten level of awareness for the next few weeks.

Those of us at CADE will remain available via the usual channels. The CDC in

Atlanta has shut down and sent employees home.

Meanwhile, stress and anxiety may be the primary effect on the citizens of Iowa (below is an excerpt from our press release):

A national tragedy like the terrorist events of today can result in feelings of tremendous stress and hopelessness. State health officials urge those feeling overwhelmed by events to take advantage of resources available throughout the state to help deal with the stress. Of particular concern are children and those who have been victims of traumatic events in the past for which this event may bring back feelings of helplessness.

The Iowa Department of Public Health encourages all Iowans to watch themselves, friends and families for signs of stress. Those signs would include:

  • Extreme sadness, apathy or fear to such a level that it impacts daily activity on a regular basis.
  • Fatigue and difficulty sleeping.
  • Difficulty in making decisions and feelings of helplessness.
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.

Stress experts also suggest that while viewing the extensive media coverage of the tragedy may fulfill a need to feel on top of current developments, it's also important to take breaks from the coverage to give your emotions a break.

Mental health experts also encourage adults and parents to watch children for concerns the children may have about the tragedy. They say that avoiding the issue with children may actually increase their fears and anxieties. Children should be given truthful answers to questions. They should also be provided with an outlet for their fears, such as art activities or an opportunity to cry, cling or otherwise express emotions.

A state toll-free hotline designed to help people suffering from stress is operating at 1-800-447-1985 (for the hearing impaired, call 1-800-735-2942). That line is operated by Iowa State University Extension and is available 24-hours a day. Additional stress counseling services are available through local social service agencies such as the American Red Cross.

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Signed -

Dr. Stephen Gleason, and those of us at CADE.