Investigations Follow Single Case Of Inhalation Anthrax

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Health Protection Agency announced on Saturday that it has been responding to an isolated case of inhalation anthrax contracted from imported animal hides used for making drums. The patient concerned is being treated in intensive care at a London hospital.

As part of an investigation to identify where the anthrax originated from, the Agency will be carrying out some testing at the patients' workshop in Hackney at the start of next week. This will involve a team from the Agency who will wear protective clothing and use a handling tent outside the property.


These are standard procedures when this sort of work is carried out, to prevent the potential of any transfer of the bacteria
Professor Nigel Lightfoot, Chief Advisor at the Agency said, "We have been working with Hackney Council to ensure that all residents of the property have been communicated with and have had an opportunity to ask questions. There is no risk to the inhabitants of this block of flats, or the wider residents in the area. The patients' property is currently secured and there is no-one living there. If this testing reveals the presence of anthrax spores then this information will be communicated to local residents and specialist cleaning will be carried out to remove any trace of anthrax from the property.

"We have also been following up any contacts of this patient who may have been exposed to the anthrax spores by being in the same room when the animal skins were being prepared when the drums were made. We have so far given antibiotics to seven people as a precautionary measure, and no-one else has developed any symptoms of anthrax. It is important to stress that it is the making of animal skin drums that is the risk for coming into contact with anthrax rather than playing or handling drums.

"We have stressed to all residents throughout this incident that there is no risk to their health as a result of the case of anthrax, or the testing that will be carried out. We are however keen to reiterate to all individuals who make drums from imported animal skins that there is a risk of coming into contact with anthrax and that they should ensure they are aware of this and take precautions to protect themselves when making these drums"