Investigators found traces of anthrax on two African drums and an electrical outlet in the room where the event took place, Dr. Talbot said, and are theorizing that the woman swallowed spores that were aerosolized by the drumming.
UPDATE: We received this email, which is worth a read:
I understand that your intent was to be amusing, but I think that you, as well as the newspaper articles, have done the particular drum circle in question and drum circles in general a disservice. I happen to know the facilitator of that drum circle personally. She has been doing these drum circles for several years. She also owns a music store that features drums and percussion. Both the woman with anthrax and her mother have been her students for years. Neither the mother nor any other students or members of the circle have become ill.
The newspaper articles mentioned that Anthrax lives in soil for years, particularly where livestock have been resident. They did not mention that the woman who has Anthrax had also visited several farms in VT and Maine during the 60 day incubation period.
This whole thing has turned the facilitator's life into a living hell and will undoubtedly affect her livelihood at a time when so many of us face financial disaster. Yet, when she offered to bring all of her natural skin drums in for testing, she was told it was not necessary for her to do that unless she was contacted. Further, the drums she brings to these drum circles usually have synthetic, rather than natural hide heads.
I realize I am taking a humorless approach to this, but it hits very close. I build African and Native American style drums and flutes and use hides all the time. I also facilitate drum circles that are anything but hippie in orientation. Neither was the one conducted at the college, where non-students such as the Anthrax victim's mother are welcome and participate.
I would be the last to deny that "hippie" style free form and generally loud and ruckus oriented drum circles do exist. It is my experience, after 15 years in the field, that they are in the minority. Most drum circles seek to make in-the-moment music together, incorporating players of any, all and no levels. Others are specifically for healing and health purposes, for spiritual purposes, and I use them to promote team building.
Articles linking Anthrax to drum heads before it is ascertained that the skins were the cause and intimating that drum circles are dangerous do a great disservice to the potential benefits for many to be gotten from drumming in groups. The other two cases of Anthrax related to skins both relate to people who make drums and stored many skins. I know the person who was afflicted in NYC. He worked in a tiny room in a storage facility. It had no windows or other ventilation and was packed with skins and drum shells, both of which he transported from Africa himself, as an individual, rather than importing them through methods during which they are disinfected and sanitized, as most of us do.
Honestly-I do have a sense of humor, even on this subject, but this is potentially a horrible distortion of the truth, and a wonderful facilitator who frequently contributes her services free is suffering greatly because of it.