Anthrax scare at Salem, Mass. hospital

A letter sent to a Salem, Mass. hospital this week contained a small white powder, setting off fears of an anthrax attack within the building.

The six-page letter, sent to Salem Hospital's pediatric physicians, considered the issue of circumcising men as a means of preventing the spread of AIDS. According to officials and hospital staff, when the letter was opened, a small amount of white powder came off of it.

The employee who opened the letter got powder on their fingers and three employees in the pediatric physicians' office were evacuated.

The office that received the letter is for administrative purposes only and letter neither contacted or posed a risk to patients.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said that, after opening the letter, the administrative staff called security several hours later. Security then placed the letter in an envelope and called the Salem Fire Department.

A hazardous materials team consisting of Danvers and Salem firefighters evacuated the employees and then tested the white power, which was revealed to be harmless.

"It turned out to be nothing," Salem Deputy fire Chief Glen Beaudet told The Salem News.

According to the spokeswoman, there was no return address on the envelope though the letter was signed. The name signed has not been released.