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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Infectious Disease Expert Addresses Veterans Day Luncheon

Dr. Ralph Timperi, assistant commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and director of the State Laboratory Institute gave a speech on November 7, on how to detect and, how to protect your self against anthrax.

Timperi, a platoon leader in Vietnam in 1967-68, was invited to UMass Boston by the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences to be the guest speaker at their annual Veterans Day Celebration and Lunch. He explained in detail, using a series of slides, how the anthrax spores spread, what to look for, and what anthrax looks like as it spreads through the body.

He explained that airborne anthrax is “the most deadly” because spores that are inhaled into the lungs multiply. This is why Post Offices throughout the country are on high alert. When mail is sent through a mail pressing machine, it squashes the mail together and if any anthrax were in any of the envelopes it would become airborne and contaminate the surrounding area as well as the postal machines.

Using a chart, Timperi showed where most of the cases have been reported. New York and New Jersey were cited as having the most reported cases. Letters sent to Washington D.C. were also on the list.

“Anthrax can be treated if caught in time,” explained Timperi, who teaches Infectious Disease and Outbreak Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and has been active in world health issues, travelling to Vietnam, India and Eritrea.