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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Experts in 'anthrax death' probe
Pascal Norris
Christopher Norris worked with untreated animal hides
National experts have been called in to help decontaminate the property of a man believed to have died due to anthrax in the Scottish Borders.

Christopher "Pascal" Norris, from near Hawick, died last month from blood poisoning which tests showed was most likely caused by the infection.

NHS Borders said the "safest and most appropriate" clean-up strategy would be adopted for the property.

Their advice helpline can be contacted on 08000 282816.

A total of 50 people have now been contacted by health officials dealing with the suspected anthrax death.

The majority of them have been offered precautionary antibiotics.

Mr Norris, 50, lived alone at a remote address in Stobs near Hawick, which has now been sealed off.

NHS Borders said the single, self-employed craftsman made artworks and musical instruments, some of which involved untreated animal hides and which may have contained anthrax spores.

Officials have been trying to trace people who have been in his house during the last four weeks in case they have touched the infected hides and contracted the infection.

This has been a tragic and difficult case
John Glennie
Chief Executive of NHS Borders

While doctors have stressed to residents living nearby that the disease is not contagious and therefore poses no danger to the general public, anyone who has visited the Black Lodge since 17 July is encouraged to ring the helpline.

Anyone who recently removed any articles from the dead man's house has been advised to double bag the items and phone the NHS Borders helpline for advice.

John Glennie, Chief Executive of NHS Borders, said: "This has been a tragic and difficult case. I want to thank the multi-agency team that has been involved in this investigation.

"I also want to thank the media who have, by publicising the helpline number, enabled additional contacts to come forward."

Police at Mr Norris' house
The house has been sealed off and an incident control team set up

Dr John Cowden, consultant at Health Protection Scotland, said Mr Norris almost definitely died from pulmonary anthrax and had been a "very, very unlucky man".

The strain of the disease is normally fatal and kills within a matter of days.

Anthrax is an acute bacterial infection most commonly found in hoofed animals such as cattle, sheep and goats.

It normally infects humans when they inhale or ingest anthrax spores, but cannot be passed from person to person.

The disease is most commonly found in wilder parts of Africa, Asia and South America, but is extremely rare in the UK.

The last known death in the UK was in 1974, according to the Health Protection Agency, while Scotland's last known fatality was a 48-year-old woman in 1971.

Since then there have been less than 20 non-fatal outbreaks of the disease among humans across the country.

anthrax




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Precautions being taken after the death of Mr Norris



SEE ALSO
Man dies from 'rare anthrax bug'
16 Aug 06 |  South of Scotland
'Animal link' in US anthrax case
23 Feb 06 |  Americas
MoD spent 4m on anthrax vaccine
11 Jan 06 |  UK Politics
Tests end Pentagon anthrax scare
16 Mar 05 |  Americas
Q&A: Anthrax
16 Aug 06 |  Health

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