N.H. woman recovering from anthrax infection

The condition of the New Hampshire woman who contracted the extremely rare gastrointestinal form of anthrax is improving and she has been moved out of intensive care, a state health official has said.

The unnamed Strafford County woman fell ill in early December and is being treated at a Boston hospital.

The source of the woman's infection is still being investigated by authorities, but the belief now is that she swalled anthrax spores that had been propelled into the air by drumming at a drum circle in Durham last month.

Two of the United Campus Ministry's 64 animal skin drums used at a Dec. 4 drum circle have tested positive for anthrax. An electrical outlet in the building also tested positive. Fifty-two other drums have tested negative and the remaining 10 await testing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing has shown that the anthrax strain found on the drums and outlet matched the patients' strain, which is said to be very common worldwide.

Two other recent U.S. anthrax cases have also been traced to the use of drums covered with animal hides, though in those cases the anthrax spores were either inhaled into the lungs or entered through the skin of patients exposed while making the drums.

The gastrointestinal form of anthrax contracted by the New Hampshire patient usually only occurs following the eating of raw or undercooked contaminated meat.