3163       Registered: 30-Oct-01      Last updated: 31-Oct-01      Posted to email: 30-Oct-01


Yourtown (AP)--A downtown bakery was closed today after a "white, powdery substance" was found coating cutting boards and tables. In addition, several bags were found on the shelves leaking an unknown fine white powder.
The bakery was immediately sealed off, and all employees hosed down and taken to CDC biowarfare centers for decontamination and testing. So far, none have tested positive for Anthrax. All employees of the baker plus customers who have eaten its bread have been put on Cipro, though many are complaining of the annoying side effects of the drug.

In a related story, all local beaches were closed after reports of a "fine, light-brown gritty substance" found near the water. Also, several mother's kitchens were sealed after workers found white powder on rolling pins and in cupboards.

"You can't be too careful," said Mom, after puking up her lunch with nausea from the Ciprfloxacin she started taking as soon as the white powder was discovered. Her husband had convinced their doctor to write a prescription for the case when the scare began.

Test results on all cases identified the white powder as "flour," a non-toxic cooking ingredient. In one case a product known as "confectioner's sugar" was the cluprit. It is also non-toxic.

"I don't understand this powder panic," said CDC epidemiologist Winston Smith. "Anthrax isn't a white powder at all. Anthrax spores are too small to be seen."

When informed the powder was non-toxic, most workers stopped taking their antibiotics, which in some of them will cause the breeding of antibiotic resistant bacteria of other strains. The bacteria could not be reached for comment.

In other news, millions of postal customers are reporting "suspicious mail" to authorities. John Wilson, of Los Angeles, turned in mail that was marked in with all sorts of official phrases like "Dated Material--open immediately," "Office of departmental records" and "To be opened by addressee only" but nothing but a mortgage solicitation. "It shouldn't look like it's government stuff but contain only an ad. That's mighty suspicious if you ask me." Officials at the Mortgage company were taken in for questions, stripped and decontaminated, then released when it was revealed their letters contained no infectious particles.

Another seized mailing indicated that recipients "may already have won" a prize when in fact they were an ordinary sweepstakes requiring the recipient to send in a form with detailed personal information that might be of use to terrorists planning an attack. A Mr. McMahon was taken in for decontamination.

Even more suspect were two letters with with suspicious offers. One offered major prizes and a free trip, but hid in fine print the compulsion to attend a high pressure time-share sales presentation. Another indicated the recipient was pre-approved for a credit card with a 2% interest rate, which it turned out jumped to 19% after a short time.

CDC officials continue to encourage Americans to report any suspicious mail to authorities. If you see it, do not open it. Instead move away from it and report it to authorities.