Source of N.H. anthrax infection found

A strain of anthrax that infected a Strafford County, New Hampshire woman has been found to be the same as one found on two drums used in a drumming circle the woman had attended, state public health officials have announced.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's DNA tests have shown that four samples of anthrax taken from the Untied Campus Ministry's Waysmeet Center in Durham, N.H., are all the same.

The samples were found on an electrical outlet and two drums used in the Dec. 4 drum circle. A fourth sample was taken from the infected woman's body.

The woman, whose names has not been released, was infected with the rare gastrointestinal anthrax following the Dec. 4 drum circle. Authorities do not know if the woman will recover and she remains in critical condition in a Massachusetts hospital.

"It is a disease that we think may be the first confirmed case in the U.S., possibly the first ever by this mechanism, so we have really no disease course for this patient," Dr. Elizabeth Talbot, an adviser to the state's public health division, told the Concord Monitor. "We certainly hope that she recovers."

Approximately 56 of the 66 drums used at the drum circle have been tested and owners of the remaining drums have been urged to contact authorities to arrange testing.

The woman is believed to have contracted anthrax from an infected drum, possibly when spores were suspended in the air through repeated banging.