Investigation launched into “Black Death” scare at UC-Irvine

An investigation has been launched by authorities into a series of suspicious envelopes containing white powder sent to University of California – Irvine.

Initial field tests done by the FBI showed that the powder was not a biological hazard – like anthrax – but a crime laboratory will perform further testing, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told NBC Los Angeles.

A total of three envelopes were discover, two on Monday and a third Tuesday morning, UC Irvine spokesman Tom Vasich said. Campus buildings were evacuated after the envelopes were found and HAZMAT was called to the scene.

The return address on the envelopes was Idaho and each contained the words “Black Death,” Vasich said. Any motive, including terrorism, has yet to be ruled out by UC Irvine police or the FBI.

The letters were received by two faculty members – Nancy Da Silva, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science and sociologist Cynthia Feliciano, a race and immigration expert. Both were quarantined briefly but neither showed any negative symptoms.

The OC Register reported that Feliciano stated on her Facebook page on Monday that she was, “quarantined after opening an envelope containing some white powder and the words ‘Black Death.’ Not a great start to the quarter.”

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