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article imageNH Woman Critically Ill with Anthrax

By Martin Laine     Dec 27, 2009 in Health
African drums are suspected as a possible source of spores that have left a New Hampshire woman in critical condition with a case of gastrointestinal anthrax.
The Concord Monitor is reporting today that the Stafford County resident first became ill earlier this month, but the disease was not diagnosed until yesterday, after she had been transferred to a Massachusetts hospital.
Naturally occurring anthrax, a potentially fatal disease which can be contracted from contaminated meat or animal hides, is rare in developed countries.
New Hampshire public health director Dr. Jose Montero said the woman owns an African drum and had brought it to drum circle events at the University of New Hampshire during the fall. Two other recent cases of naturally-occurring anthrax infection in the United States were traced back to African drums.
In August 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control, a Connecticut drum maker and one of his children were diagnosed with a form of anthrax which was eventually traced back to infected goat hides from Guinea. A year earlier, a similar case was reported in New York City, also involving a drum maker using African hides.
Health officials in New Hampshire are asking other owners of African drums to have their drums tested for possible contamination.
The last cases of naturally-occurring anthrax in New Hampshire were in 1957, when several textile mill workers came down with the disease. In the last 50 years, there have only been 11 reported cases of naturally-occurring anthrax in the United States.
In 2001, four people died after they were exposed to anthrax spores contained in letters mailed to journalists and two U.S. senators. No one has ever been charged in those killings.
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