Federal, state and local officials on Wednesday were investigating letters received by the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office and a police chief in southern Alabama.
Chatom police Chief Brent Callihan said he opened a letter on April 11 and "started having a reaction."
"It was a burning sensation all over my hands," Callihan said.
The letter was addressed to the Chatom Police Department in a plain envelope with no return address, he said. Chatom is a town of about 1,200 residents, 62 miles north of Mobile.
Callihan said he immediately dropped the letter back in the envelope and washed his hands with soap, water and then bleach. Afterward, the chief said, he called the FBI and the local Emergency Management Agency. Callihan was seen by a local doctor, but did not require medical treatment.
According to Callihan, Postal Inspector Bruce Allen is overseeing the investigation.
Attempts to reach Allen Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Callihan described the content of the letter as "the ranting and ravings of someone."
"It was nonsensical," he said.
Callihan sent a notification through the Alabama Department of Public Safety to other law enforcement agencies in the state so everyone would "handle it with caution."
An identical letter was also opened by an employee at the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office last week, according to Sheriff Larry Amerson. No one in his office had an adverse reaction to the letter, Amerson said.
After the letter was identified as a duplicate of the one received in Chatom, it was sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for further testing, Amerson said.
"It doesn't refer to a person. It doesn't threaten anybody," Amerson said of the letter.
Amerson said the letter seemed to come from a person who is "convinced there's bad things happening in the government and trying to spread word of it."
The Sheriff's Office often gets letters Amerson described as "interesting," but said he rarely sends letters for testing.
Amerson said Wednesday he hadn't spoken to any other law enforcement agencies about whether they'd received similar letters.
Copyright 2013 - The Anniston Star, Ala.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service