NH DHHS Announces Further Test Results in Anthrax Investigation

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has received some of the results from environmental samples taken on January 7th from the United Campus Ministry Building in Durham. Four samples taken from the building have shown a low level of anthrax contamination. This is in addition to three previous samples that tested positive, one from electrical outlets and two from two separate drums stored in the basement of the building.

DPHS is awaiting further test results, as not all the laboratory tests are final. Some of the results were inconclusive and require further analysis, so samples are being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The low levels of contamination that were detected are reassuring to us,” said DHHS Public Health Director Dr. José Montero, “because this supports our belief that the risk of exposure and further cases is extremely unlikely. Although we don’t know exactly what happened during the December 4th drumming event, these results help reaffirm our hypothesis that the patient became infected at a drumming circle event in the Ministry building on that date.”

The Strafford County woman remains hospitalized, but is out of intensive care. The Ministry building is closed until further notice under a quarantine order. The United Campus Ministry continues to operate from temporary offices during this time. DPHS is working with the US Environmental Protection Agency and the CDC on a recommendation for decontamination to ensure it is safe for people to reoccupy the building. DPHS is collaborating with federal officials to develop this plan because of their experience remediating anthrax-contaminated buildings in other states.

Part of the investigation has involved locating animal-hide drums owned by members of the community that were used at the December 4th drumming event. All those drums have been identified and are in the process of being tested.

For more information about anthrax, visit www.emergency.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/ or www.dhhs.nh.gov. Anyone with questions about anthrax can call DHHS’ Division of Public Health Services at 271-4496 or the Centers for Disease Control at 1-800-CDC-INFO.