FBI probing white powder mailed to Israeli Embassy

FBI officials are investigating an anthrax scare at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. that occurred on August 5.

The suspicious envelope, which was filled with white powder, was discovered at approximately 4 p.m., embassy spokesman Jonathan Peled told JTA.org.

Peled also noted that the envelope was addressed only to the embassy and not any one single person. Peled told JTA.org that no one opened the envelope.

Officials with local metropolitan police department, fire department and EMS - Haz-Mat division as well as the U.S. Secret Service were all dispatched to the scene immediately.

Peled said the powder was tested on site and that an FBI hazardous materials team is conducting further tests on the substance, which was initially feared to be the highly contagious anthrax bacteria. Anthrax was used as a biological weapon in the United States during a string of attacks in 2002.

Peled also told JTA.org that there have been no illnesses or threats associated with the envelope. The building was not evacuated and no injuries were reported.

Anthrax, mainly a disease of farm animals but a leading bioterror hazard, is spread by spores. The fatality rate without quick antibiotic treatment after inhaling anthrax spores is as high as 80 percent.

Anthrax mainly affects wild and domestic lower vertebrates like cattle, goats and other herbivores, but can also infect humans. When anthrax infects humans, it is usually due to an occupational exposure to infected animals or their products. Those infected will suffer nausea, vomiting of blood, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea and weakness.