George County Anthrax Scare Turns Out To Be A False Alarm

The George County Sheriff says the county's first Anthrax scare turned out to be a false alarm.

On Sunday, Sheriff George Miller told WLOX News that test results show the substance mailed to a Lucedale man is not Anthrax. The man opened the letter on Saturday evening and discovered a white, powdery substance inside. He immediately took it to the George County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Miller says South Mississippi law enforcement agencies have not been properly trained on how to deal with the threat of anthrax. For about four hours this weekend, no one was allowed to come or go from the George County Courthouse or the Sheriff's Department. Sheriff Miller says he decided to seal off the area because he feared contamination.

"I got here to the courthouse, and we kept everybody calm," Sheriff Miller said. "Nobody was panicked, so I think we handled the situation mighty well at this time knowing this is our first incident."

The man who initially opened envelope didn't want to be identified, but he did say the letter was addressed to him, had a Hattiesburg postmark and no return address. He says he took the envelope inside to open it and when he did a white powdery substance covered his hands. He says he called the FBI who immediately told him to contact his local Sheriff's Department.

Some Lucedale residents say they are surprised that this type of incident could happen in such a small town.

"I was very shocked," Jean Bryan said. "I was just speaking to one of my friends last evening, and we were talking about how safe we felt in this small town that we would only hear of it in large populated places."

On Sunday another second resident turned in a suspicious letter to the George County Sheriff's Department, and the sheriff says it will also be tested. That letter has not been opened yet.

Sheriff Miller will meet with Mississippi Emergency Management tomorrow so he can learn more about what law enforcement should do when a possible anthrax threat arises.

By Danielle Thomas