Anthrax threat shuts down Lake Forest, Calif., streets

An anthrax threat made on Saturday morning near a Chase Bank in the 2300 block of El Toro Road in Lake Forest, Calif., caused officials to close down the neighboring streets.

A man allegedly told people in the bank that he had anthrax in his backpack, according to an Orange County sheriff spokesperson. A bomb squad was called in to investigate the threat at the Orange County bank and determined that the contents of the backpack were harmless, ABC 7 Los Angeles reports.

The man, Steve Shapiro, was tracked down in his car by local deputies. He faces charges of making criminal threats.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anthrax is a serious disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which forms dormant spores that can come to life in the right conditions. Anthrax was used as a weapon in the United States in 2001 when it was spread deliberately through the postal system in letters containing anthrax-laced powder. The attack caused 22 cases of infection in total.

While the inhalation of anthrax includes symptoms that are similar to the cold or flu, one should not assume that just because a person has cold or flu symptoms that they have inhalation anthrax. If anthrax infection occurs, it is treated with a 60 day course of antibiotics.