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Isolated Case of Naturally-Occurring Inhalational Anthrax in a New York City Resident

By CBN Staff, February 22, 2006

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) [1] released an alert today regarding a single case of inhalational anthrax in a 44 year old man who makes drums from unprocessed animal hides. On December 21, 2006, the man returned from a 2 week trip to the Ivory Coast, where he purchased animal hides. He last worked with the hides around February 15th.

On February 16th, while traveling to Pennsylvania, the man collapsed while at dinner and was taken to a hospital. He reported chills and rigors, and on examination, oxygen saturation was reportedly normal, and he did not have a fever. CBC was normal, but chest radiograph revealed pleural effusions. Blood cultures grew gram positive rods, and the Pennsylvania LRN PCR test was positive for all primers, indicating B. anthracis. The patient is reportedly clinically stable while receiving antibiotic therapy.

This appears to be an isolated, naturally-occurring event, but public health officials are undertaking an epidemiologic investigation on others who might have been exposed to the contaminated animal hides to determine whether post-exposure antimicrobial prophylaxis is warranted.

Note: The City of New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released the alert through its Health Alert Network (HAN). To receive NYC Health Alert Network (HAN) messages please register for NYC MED. NYCMED is the single point of entry for providers to access all New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) on-line applications. If you are not currently a NYC MED member, please click here to register. The NYC Health Alert Network (HAN) provides public health information for medical providers, including: up-to-date health alert information delivered to your inbox and archived on the Web, an online document library on public health topics, and an online community to exchange information and ideas with your colleagues.