Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Inhalational Anthrax in a New York City Resident who works with Unprocessed Animal Hides

From the New York City Department of Health:
Dear Healthcare Providers:

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) was notified on February 21, 2006 of a case of inhalational anthrax in a 44-year-old male resident of Manhattan who makes drums from unprocessed animal hides (cow and goat) in a storage space in downtown Brooklyn. He returned from a two-week trip to Africa on December 21st, where he bought raw animal hides. He last worked on animal raw hides on February 14th and 15th in this storage space. On February 16th while traveling in Pennsylvania, the patient collapsed and was taken to a nearby hospital where he reportedly presented with chills, rigors, and bilateral pleural effusions. His white count was normal and he was afebrile. Four out of four blood cultures grew gram positive rods within 24 hours which were confirmed today by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Bacillus anthracis. The patient is reportedly stable on appropriate antibiotic therapy. There are no signs of cutaneous or pharyngeal anthrax lesions.

As the patient works with unprocessed animal hides obtained both locally and from Africa, this appears to be a case of naturally occurring anthrax. However, a joint public health and law enforcement investigation of this case is ongoing, including an environmental assessment to determine whether there is any ongoing risk of exposure at the storage facility in Brooklyn. The DOHMH will be actively reaching out to all people who may have had direct exposure to these animal hides and if indicated, provide them with prophylactic antibiotics. There is no evidence of any risk to the general public...
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