Second round of anthrax testing in N.H. comes up negative

A second round of samples taken for testing from a Durham, N.H. building were a woman contracted a rare form of anthrax have returned negative for anthrax spores, New Hampshire health officials have revealed.

Seventy-three samples were taken from the United Campus Ministry on Jan. 7. of those, four returned with low levels of anthrax spores and more than 10 came back inconclusive, which means that the level of contamination is low enough that it's very hard to detect. Further testing will be performed on those samples by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The four positive samples were taken from common areas in the building where people had played drums and from a nearby office.

“What happened here is quite unlikely to happen, was unlikely to happen, it did, but this is entirely unusual as proven by the levels of contamination in this building that are quite low,” Dr. Jose Montero, New Hampshire's public health director, told the Sentinel Source.

The building is currently quarantined as the department waits for the completion of all testing, at which time an Environmental Protection Agency plan to clean the building will be enacted. The cleaning is expected to utilize a combination of scrubbing, bleaching and vacuuming.

The unidentified Strafford county woman who fell victim to gastrointestinal anthrax while attending a drum circle at the building remains hospitalized in stable condition. Health officials hope to interview her in the near future to get a clearer answer of how she became infected. The current hypothesis is that anthrax spores propelled into the air by animal skin-covered drums were swallowed by the woman.