Police in New York town say suspicious powder not anthrax

Police in Tarrytown, New York, recently confirmed that that a woman who reported finding anthrax on a local street was incorrect and the substance was harmless.

The woman, a Tarrytown resident, said she found an aspirin bottle that she believed contained the dangerous bioagent, according to DailyVoice.com.

Local authorities and the Westchester County Department of Health dispatched the Greenburgh Technical Rescue Team and a hazmat response team. The substance found in the bottle was tested and found to be harmless. The bottle and an additional sample of the material was sent to a laboratory for confirmation.

The woman who reported the suspicious substance was given a medical evaluation and refused any further treatment, DailyVoice.com reports.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies anthrax as Category A biological agent, placing it among the pathogens that are the most dangerous to public health.

Since the anthrax attacks of 2001, erroneous reports of finding anthrax have increased dramatically. Despite the large number of false reports, health and law enforcement agencies treat suspicious powders as a very serious matter.

Anthax also occurs naturally. The bacteria is not spread from person to person and can exist in a dormant state in the form of spores for many years. The spores can activate when they come into contact with human skin, are ingested or inhaled.