Is there an infection risk when playing drums contaminated with Bacillus anthracis?

Allan Bennett, T. Pottage*, S. R. Parks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: This study aims to investigate the aerosol release of a Bacillus anthracis spore surrogate from two different types of drums while playing, by; (i) quantifying the number of spores aerosolized during playing; (ii) investigating spore recovery from drums over long time periods, and (iii) measuring differences between (i) and (ii) for two different drums types. Methods and Results: Two African drums were contaminated with Bacillus atrophaeus spores then sampled and played by hand over a number of days. During playing three air samplers were used to collect any aerosols generated, the choice of air samplers (Casella slit sampler, all glass impinger and six-stage Andersen sampler) allowed for characterization of the aerosols produced. Conclusions: Spore contamination of drums was found to be long-lasting with a small percentage of the spores being detached and aerosolized during drumming. The results of these studies have been used for a quantitative risk assessment of playing drums contaminated with B. anthracis spores. Significance and Impact of the Study: This demonstrates that the risk of inhalational exposure while playing drums contaminated with the levels linked to the US and UK cases is very low and that the resulting cases of inhalational anthrax can be explained by being unusual events involving highly susceptible persons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-845
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Crown copyright. Journal of Applied Microbiology © 2016 The Society for Applied Microbiology


  • Bacillus anthracis
  • aerobiology
  • anthrax
  • bacterial spores
  • environmental health
  • inhalational


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