Florida Government Building Evacuated After Receiving Envelope Claiming to Contain Anthrax
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles' building has evacuated most of its 1,500 employees after receiving a suspicious letter that was believed to contain anthrax.
According to the Associated Press, the envelope was found in the records office, which deals with a high volume of letters each day. The envelope, addressed to the agency's executive director, said that there was anthrax inside.
The Associated Press reports that there is nothing inside the envelope, a report that appears to be confirmed by other news outlets. However, Central Florida News reports that the envelope was filled with a suspicious powder, and Tallahassee.com reports that it contained anthrax.
The majority of the agency's employees were evacuated from the building, ABC Action News reports. They were all told to return at 1 p.m., when they would receive further information.
The exception the evacuation rule is the seven employees who were in the room at the time of the letter's discovery. These employees are being held in isolation, and their clothes are being held in isolation, where all doors have been closed and the heating and air conditioning system was turned off. They were decontaminated with a shower at the facility. Since the envelope's discovery, none are displaying symptoms.
"Being that there is a possibility that some of these substances may not be visible, we're just going to take all precautions," Fire Department lieutenant Mike Bellamy said to WTSP. "It's [the investigation] been flawless. The evacuation was actually at just about near perfect."
The building is located almost four miles away from the state's capital. The envelope will be sent to law enforcement for further investigation. As of right now, it is not clear who sent the envelope or why they would have sent it.
Anthrax spores can be passed on through clothing or shoes. When they are inhaled, ingested or even if they come into contact with skin, the spores can multiply rapidly. Animals infected with anthrax have been known to infect others even 70 years after their burial, if their grave is disturbed. Infection with anthrax can lead to death.