UK anthrax victim infected by drum skin
West African percussion of death
The 50-year-old man who died in 2006 from anthrax probably caught the disease while "playing or handling West African drums", the BBC reports.
Christopher Norris worked with untreated animal hides at his home at Black Lodge in Stobs in the Scottish Borders. An inquiry has concluded he succumbed to the first case of "inhalation anthrax" seen in the UK for over a century, and was most likely infected while participating in a drumming session in the village hall in Smailholm.
Dr Andrew Riley, director of public health, reported: "His short illness was characterised by an atypical presentation of what world experts considered to be inhalation anthrax. The speed of onset of the illness and resulting sudden death serve to illustrate the potential devastating impact of this disease."
The health authority response to the case - which involved identifying 150 people "at high risk of exposure to the disease", giving antibiotics to 70 of those, and disinfecting two properties - cost £460,000. In the end, however, Dr Riley said no one else who attended the suspect drumming session was infected.
Anthrax is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It's commonly seen in cattle, sheep and goats, but while it can be passed from infected animals to humans, it is not transmitted between people. ®
Two people in Danbury, Connecticut, were in September diagnosed with anthrax. One of them is, according to a New York Times report, an African drummer "thought to have contracted anthrax from drum skins".
The house where the pair apparently contracted the disease was "being used to store untanned animal hides obtained from areas of the world where anthrax is known to be common".
The incident was the second in two years in the same area involving African drummers and anthrax, the NYT notes.
@Neil Gerstenberg et al
I was in that drumming class (I figured it would be a safe change from flying or sailing or climbing - how wrong was I) and drummed beside the chap that sadly died. The comprehensive report on the BBC page explains that they only found anthrax spores in the hall at Smailholm and not in this home where he did his hobby of taxidermy. His home was very closely examined as that was the mian hypothesis last year. When they found nothing they eventually examined the hall where the classes took place where they found spores.
As an aside although you could walk past the hall and drive up to it, there was an air exclusion zone of 3 nautical miles so we couldn't fly over it under 3,000 feet... They also held the 'are you worried about Anthrax?' meeting in the village hall where they subsequently found the spores.
I wonder if any terrorist organisation would be interested in my drum...
There is also some IT in this story as one of the main problems highlighted in the report is the failing of IT in delays of database capture.
Rolf was first
"...tan me hide when I'm dead, Fred.
...tan me hide when I'm dead.
So we tanned his hide when he died, Clive.
And that's him hanging on the shed!
Hide and Sick
Since in both these cases the victims had "animal hides" at home, why do the experts conclude that the drumming sessions were to blame? No one else caught the disease except the guys who hung untreated skins up in their living room... Have I missed something?