NH DHHS Lifts Quarantine on UNH Building Linked to Anthrax Investigation

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is today lifting the quarantine order on the United Campus Ministry Building in Durham. The building has been closed since December after samples from several rooms tested positive for low-level anthrax contamination. The Ministry was cleaned following specific procedures the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended. The EPA’s recommendations are based on previous experiences remediating anthrax in buildings.

“We have conducted follow-up testing, and the results show the building is no longer contaminated with the naturally occurring anthrax,” said DHHS Public Health Director Dr. José Montero. “Since we have determined there is no danger to the public, we are lifting the order and clearing the Ministry building for normal use.”

The Ministry building became the focus of an investigation after a Strafford County woman was infected with gastrointestinal anthrax. Public health officials believe she became sick after attending a drumming event at the building and ingesting aerosolized anthrax spores that originated from animal-hide drums.

This was a very complex investigation. DHHS’ Division of Public Health Services worked very closely with a number of agencies and partners including the pastor at the United Campus Ministry Building, as well as local officials in the town of Durham and at the University of New Hampshire, State partners at Homeland Security, the Department of Environmental Services, the NH National Guard, and federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the EPA.

“We realize the timeframe of this investigation and the subsequent decontamination process were quite lengthy,” said Montero, “but this was a situation never seen before and we wanted to make absolutely sure that everything was being done appropriately to ensure the safety of the public at each step of the process. We want to thank everyone involved for their cooperation.”