Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

War experts gave anthrax advice

Warfare experts gave advice on how to decontaminate the hall

Warfare experts from the US and Germany gave advice on decontamination after an anthrax death in the Scottish Borders, a fatal accident inquiry has been told.

UK authorities had so little experience of the disease they got international help after the incident in 2006.

Christopher "Pascal" Norris, 50, of Stobs village near Hawick, died as a result of inhaling anthrax spores.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard there was "limited experience" worldwide in dealing with such clean-up operations.

Early investigations centred on Mr Norris's own home.

However, Dr Colin Ramsay, of Health Protection Scotland, said attention later turned to drumming classes he had attended.

He said he was "surprised" when test results showed Mr Norris was more likely to have caught anthrax while at the classes rather than from cutting up animal skins in his own home.

His house was found to be clear of spores but some were found on drums and at Smailholm village hall near Kelso where classes were held.

Nobody in the UK had been involved in anything like this
Dr Colin Ramsay
Health Protection Scotland

Mr Norris had attended a class there days before he died.

Dr Ramsay said the investigation results had been unexpected.

"We thought he was more likely to have got it from shaving infected drum skins and we were surprised not to find any evidence of that," he said.

"We were equally surprised to find it on the drums themselves and that this turned out to be the most probable explanation for how he came into contact with them."

He said they took advice from warfare experts in Germany and America before instructing US company Sabre to decontaminate the hall using chlorine dioxide gas in March 2007.

"Nobody in the UK had been involved in anything like this," said Dr Ramsay.

"Worldwide there is limited experience of dealing with a situation like this."

The inquiry, before Sheriff Principal Edward Bowen QC, continues.

Print Sponsor

Anthrax case lacks 'simple' cause
20 Nov 08 |  South of Scotland
Anthrax found on teacher's drums
19 Nov 08 |  South of Scotland
Drum skin plea at anthrax inquiry
18 Nov 08 |  South of Scotland
Man dies after inhaling anthrax
03 Nov 08 |  London
Anthrax inquiry timetable set out
03 Jul 08 |  South of Scotland
Anthrax death inquiry to be held
06 Feb 08 |  South of Scotland
Man caught anthrax from drum skin
13 Dec 07 |  South of Scotland


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific