Gastrointestinal anthrax after an animal-hide drumming event - New Hampshire and Massachusetts, 2009.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010 Jul 23; 59(28):872-7.MM
On December 24, 2009, a woman aged 24 years from New Hampshire was confirmed to have gastrointestinal anthrax on the basis of clinical findings and a Bacillus anthracis blood culture isolate. Her symptoms began on December 5. One day before symptom onset, she had participated in a drumming event at a community organization's building where animal-hide drums of multiple ages and origins were played. This report describes the case and subsequent investigation, which identified 84 persons potentially exposed to anthrax, including those persons at the drumming event and those who lived or worked at the event site. Review of New Hampshire disease surveillance data and clinical microbiology records for periods before and after the event identified no additional anthrax cases. Initial qualitative environmental testing of the event site yielded three positive samples (two from drum heads and one composite sample of three electrical outlets in the main drumming room). Wider, targeted, semi-quantitative environmental testing of the site and additional drums yielded six positive samples (two from one drum and four from environmental locations in the building). These results suggested that aerosolization of spores from drumheads had occurred. All isolates obtained from environmental and drum samples matched the patient's isolate by multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis using eight loci (MLVA-8). Public health agencies and persons with exposure to animal-hide drums should be aware of the potential, although remote, risk for anthrax exposure associated with these drums.