Throughout the nation, Americans are reading of important people being sent mail that has traces of anthrax in it.
The public hasn't reached a consensus opinion on subject, because there are many questions to be answered: What is anthrax? What can it do to people? But one Northern Californian school's students know what they think about anthrax: It is bad.
Students of Tennyson High School in Hayward, CA have launched a "Anthrax: It's not good, it's bad" campaign that is designed to let other students know the perils of using anthrax. They feel that too many students are killing themselves with anthrax, and at the same time that the media is not doing a good enough job in reporting these deaths and letting the public know what's going on.
"Tobacco gets all the news, but anthrax is a real threat to high school students these days, too," said Teddy Rose, President of Anti-Anthrax (AA). "I started AA because my friends were doing anthrax and dying from it. 'Anthrax: It's not good, it's bad' is our 'Truth' campaign."
In their meetings, AA members discuss plans to get their message out. They are creating leaflets with such factual tidbits as "inhalation anthrax begins with the same symptoms as the common cold, yet it is the most deadly form of the disease" and "untreated intestinal anthrax is deadly 25' to 60' of the time." AA is also petitioning the school to get an announcement before lunch. Their main goal is to let kids know they shouldn't be pressured to do anything they don't want to do.
But they realize that being a teen is tough, and sometimes the thrill of being "cool" is enough to make them try something they wouldn't otherwise try, like anthrax.
Says THS student and AA member Hubert Selby, Jr., "Kids read the newspapers, and they see celebrities like Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle having anthrax and they think, 'Wow, if I try this, maybe I'll be just like him.' The media glorifies anthrax and it's the kids who pay the price."
Next up for AA is getting other schools to take part in "A:INGIB". Going on the slogan, "Every teen should know that anthrax is a deadly bacteria spore," AA is talking to students at Hayward area high schools to get their support and to help them form their own AA chapters. They hope to have an Anti-Anthrax club on at least four campuses by winter break. Their final goal is to put a stop to all anthrax-related teen deaths. It will be tough, but the group is optimistic.
"Anthrax kills. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: the stuff is deadly," says Teddy Rose, "But the key to defeating this pillager of today's youth is knowledge; if kids know the danger inherent in taking anthrax, they will be less likely to ever do it."