Soldiers exposed to white powder released from quarantine

Six U.S. soldiers and a Turk who had been quarantined after discovering a parcel with suspicious white powder at Ataturk Airport have now been released.

Officials with the Turkish Health Ministry told that when the parcel was found, one of the soldiers opened it, revealing a white powder inside. This soldier, officials said, had been assigned to bring the parcel from the Ataturk Airport.

The seven men were quarantined because health officials initially feared the white powder was anthrax. Subsequent examination of the powder showed it to be harmless, as no biological agents were found.

“The analysis established that the suspicious powder did not contain a biological agent," the Turkish Health Ministry told

Health officials told that the seven men were supervised at a hospital in Istanbul and that the area where the package had been opened had also been decontaminated.

U. S. Embassy Spokeswoman Deborah Guido told that final laboratory results were still pending, but that the matter would be considered cleared once this occurred.

Health officials said the men have been released. Turkish Health Ministry officials are still working with the U.S. embassy on the investigation.

Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Bacillus anthracis. Infection in humans most often involves the skin, the gastrointestinal tract or the lungs. Symptoms of gastrointestinal anthrax usually develop within one week and can affect the mouth, esophagus, intestines and colon.