Soldotna men receive anthrax scare

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2001

An anthrax scare Wednesday afternoon involving two Soldotna men yielded no evidence to cause alarm, said Sgt. Charles Tressler of the Soldotna Police Department.

The two men received an 8-by-10-inch envelope in the mail from LaserStrand, a hair implant company in Philadelphia, and opened the envelope in a car.

"They opened it up and they indicated it went 'poof,' and white powder came out and went all over the dash board and steering wheel," Tressler said.

The men feared the powder was anthrax and went to Central Peninsula General Hospital. The hospital contacted the Soldotna police at 1:56 p.m.

The police examined the car and seized the envelope for further investigation. No powder residue was found in the envelope, and the envelope had a legitimate-looking business address on it, Tressler said.

A business card with the company's phone number was included in the envelope, so Soldotna police contacted the company.

"It was a legitimate business," Tressler said. "They affirmed they did package the envelope -- and not with any white powder or brown powder or any powder."

The envelope will not be sent out for further analysis, Tressler said.

"We didn't find any drops of powder to indicate an anthrax scare," he said. "We're not having the package tested. There's nothing for them to test."

Sometimes when envelopes are mailed, a type of powder is used to keep them from sticking, and that may account for what the men saw, Tressler said.

In a situation where someone thinks they may have been exposed to anthrax, Tressler stressed that they should not go to the hospital.

"Once you go to the hospital, they contaminate everything there," Tressler said. "What they should do is go home, call troopers, and they'll contact the public health nurse and go from there."

A hospital spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

"If they get sick in three or four days we'll take another look at it. But we don't think there's anything wrong," Tressler said.

Soldotna Postmaster Margaret Merrill would not comment, other than to say that she was aware of the incident and that the actions taken by the police department were appropriate.

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