Anthrax scare shuts down debt collection agency


By Cara Sulieman
AN OFFICE block was sealed off with employees quarantined during an anthrax scare.

A female worker at Kilmarnock’s debt collection agency had a nosebleed just hours after opening a suspicious letter with white powder inside on Monday.

The office block was sealed off for six hours to let health workers check the building for anthrax – leaving 50 terrified workers trapped inside.

When eventually let out at 7pm, the employees of Mackenzie Hall in Kilmarnock were relieved to hear it had been a false alarm.

They now believe the powder in the post was only sugar.

Rumours of a white powder started to circulate the office after the 25-year-old ‘victim’ suddenly fell ill.

Allan Ronney, an accounts manager at the firm, said: “We heard a female member of staff opened a letter and some sort of powder came out.

“She said she rubbed her nose and later she got a nosebleed.”

It was the arrival of the female worker at Crosshouse Hospital that sparked off the operation.

She was driven to the hospital by a colleague and both of them ended up in quarantine after mentioning the powder to staff.

Police rushed to the office block and closed it off while police chemists and fire service scientific officers searched the building for the deadly substance.

One employee said: “We get a lot of mail slagging us off.

“Most of us think the white powder in this letter was just sugar, but we understand what the police have to do in a case like this.

“We were told there was little risk of contamination, but then these guys are putting masks on to examine the desk where the mail was opened.”
Police later confirmed that it had been a false alarm “with good intent”.

A police spokeswoman said: “No substance was found which was deemed to be detrimental to health.”

She couldn’t rule out the possibility that the white powder was in fact sugar.

Anthrax attacks are rare but the consequences can be devastating, leading to death if it isn’t spotted soon enough.

After developing flu-like symptoms, anthrax leads to respiratory collapse.