BOCA RATON, FL: Lingering unease from September's terrorist
attacks, combined with the recent anthrax crisis in Florida, is causing
communications turmoil for two US corporations.
The anthrax death of a journalist at The Sun tabloid last week sparked
fears among readers that the disease could be contracted from handling
the current issue. Concerned consumers reportedly called various outlets
- including supermarkets where the paper is sold, and the Larry King
Live show - asking about the possible dangers of buying The Sun.
Sun publisher American Media responded by impressing on media outlets
that the paper is not printed at its Florida offices, and therefore had
no contact with infected areas, and that anthrax is not contagious.
According to some sources, American Media CEO David Pecker even asked
the Centers for Disease Control to issue a statement reassuring the
The anthrax concern also caused a PR whirlwind for Michigan-based
Bioport Corporation, the only US manufacturer of the anthrax
Bioport spokeswoman Kim Brennen Root estimates that she has fielded at
least 20 media inquiries a day from outlets such as The Wall Street
Journal, the AP, CNN, and MSNBC, but the majority of calls have come
from concerned citizens wanting to buy the vaccine.
Within three days of the September 11 attacks, the company received
1,000 phone calls and quickly set up a consumer hotline to inform the
public that the US government owns all of the current supply of the
vaccine, for use on military troops.
Bioport's chief message is: "All the anthrax vaccine stockpile that
exists is owned by the Department of Defense, and is for the protection
of the men and women who are risking their lives to fight for our
Although Bioport had formerly worked with a small PR firm in Lansing,
MI, Root is currently handling all the inquiries single-handedly.