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London drum-maker dies of inhalation anthrax

Fatal percussion

The London-based Spanish drum-maker admitted to Hackney's Homerton Hospital with anthrax contracted from imported animal skins died on Sunday afternoon, the BBC reports.

A hospital spokesman confirmed that Fernando Gomez, 35, died of inhalation anthrax - the same means of transmission which in 2006 proved fatal for 50-year-old Christopher Norris from the Scottish Borders, who was infected after "playing or handling West African drums".

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has sealed off Gomez's Hackney flat and will examine his workshop later this week, while "attempting to trace where the infected skins originated". Seven people have been treated with antibiotics as a "precautionary measure".

The HPA's Chief Advisor, Professor Nigel Lightfoot, said that those living close to Gomez's flat or workshop weren't in danger, adding that "the risk of coming into contact with anthrax came from the making of animal skin drums, not playing or handling them".

He warned: "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." ®

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