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A drum maker who inhaled anthrax spores while handling imported animal skins at his workshop has died in hospital.
Fernando Gomez, 35, from Hackney in east London, had been in the intensive care unit of Homerton University Hospital for more than a week.
A hospital spokesman confirmed he died from inhalation anthrax not cutaneous anthrax and said his family were with him when he died.
Animal hides pose a low risk of cutaneous (skin) anthrax, and an extremely low risk of inhalation anthrax. Exotic animal hides may pose a higher risk for exposure than domestic (U.S.-origin) hides. The risk of contracting Bacillus anthracis from handling individual hides is believed to be very low; however, the industrial processing of hides or hair has historically been associated with increased risk of anthrax. Such industrial handling of large numbers of hides or hair from multiple animals results in prolonged direct contact with contaminated materials, often in enclosed or poorly ventilated settings. Among the 236 cases of anthrax reported to CDC from 1955 to 1999, 153 (65%) were associated with industrial handling of animal hide or hair. Only 9 of the 153 cases (6%) associated with industrial handling of hair or hide were inhalation anthrax.