Following the announcement of the death of a patient from inhalation anthrax the Health Protection Agency would like to offer its condolences to the patient's family and friends.
As part of an investigation to identify where the anthrax originated from, the Agency will be carrying out some testing at the patient's workshop in Hackney tomorrow. This will involve a team from the Agency who will wear protective clothing and use a handling tent outside the property. These are standard procedures when this sort of work is carried out, to prevent the potential of any transfer of the bacteria.
Dr Brian McCloskey, Director of the Agency in the London Region said, "We have been working with Hackney Council and have spoken to all the residents of this property. There is no risk to those living in this block of flats, or the wider residents in the area. The patient's property is currently secured and there is no-one living there. If this testing reveals the presence of anthrax spores then we will speak to local residents about this and specialist cleaning will be carried out to remove any trace of anthrax from the property.
"We have also been following up any contacts of this patient who may have been exposed to the anthrax spores by being in the same room when the animal skins were being prepared and the drums were made. We have so far given antibiotics to eight people as a precautionary measure, and none of these have developed any symptoms of anthrax. It is important to stress that it is the making of animal skin drums that is the risk for coming into contact with anthrax rather than playing or handling drums.
"We have stressed to all residents throughout this incident that there is no risk to their health as a result of the case of anthrax, or the testing that will be carried out. 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"