Anthrax hoax letter hits Wash. courthouse

Local officials in Bellingham, Wash., say that a suspicious white powder prompting the evacuation of the Whatcom County courthouse turned out to be harmless.
A suspicious substance was delivered to the Superior Court clerk's office on Wednesday at approximately 1:20 p.m., KGMI reports. The courthouse was then emptied and the local sheriff's office responded along with the Bellingham fire department and hazmat team.
County Executive Pete Kremen said that the mysterious white powder in the envelope turned out to be aspirin. Twenty-two people were held in the building during the testing of the envelope, according to KGMI.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anthrax is a serious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax was used as a weapon in the 2001 postal system attacks in the United States. Powder containing the bacterium was deliberately spread through letters, causing 22 cases of anthrax infection in total and five deaths.
The CDC classifies anthrax as a Category A bioterrorism agent, which means that it may require a great deal of planning to protect the public's health, may spread across a large area or need public awareness, and it may pose the greatest possible threat for bad effects on public health. In most cases, early treatment with antibiotics will cure cutaneous anthrax. Even if untreated, 80 percent of people who become infected with cutaneous anthrax do not die.