NH DHHS Releases Decontamination Plan for Building Linked in Anthrax Investigation

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has established a decontamination plan for the United Campus Ministry Building in Durham where samples from several common rooms tested positive for low-level anthrax contamination.

The results from 75 environmental samples taken from the Ministry building on January 7th show that 4 samples taken from the building’s common rooms indicate a low-level of anthrax contamination. This is in addition to samples taken previously from 2 separate drums stored in the basement of the building that also tested positive for low-level contamination.

“We have worked very closely with our partners at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Environmental Services to develop a decontamination plan,” said DHHS Public Health Director Dr. José Montero. “The recommendations are based on EPA’s experience in decontaminating previous anthrax bacterial infestations in similar situations in the past.”

The plan specifies following specific procedures for cleaning various objects, furniture and surfaces, and management of the decontamination process. The common rooms where positive test results were obtained will need to be decontaminated according to the plan’s requirements, as will rooms adjoining the contaminated rooms. The other rooms in the house that tested negative, have not been affected and do not need to be decontaminated.

A woman from Strafford County was diagnosed with gastrointestinal anthrax back in early December after attending a December 4th drumming event held at the Ministry building. Public health officials believe the woman became infected after ingesting aerosolized anthrax spores originating from animal-hide drums.

The Ministry building has been closed under an order of quarantine, once the decontamination is complete the order will be lifted and the building can be returned to normal use.

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.