CPSC Warns Consumers of Possible Contamination of Goatskin Products

May 01, 1974
Release Number: 74-026

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today warned consumers that goatskin products imported from Haiti may be contaminated with anthrax spores.

Consumers who may have goatskin items such as bongo drums, wineskins, hassocks, small rugs, decorative wall coverings (mosaics), "Balancers", ladies' purses or unfinished goatskin hides known to have been imported from Haiti should place the products in a sealed plastic bag and call a local or State health department for disposal instructions.

Consumers should not attempt to sterilize the product, incinerate it, or throw it away because of the risk of additional contamination.

The Commission is issuing this warning in cooperation with the Center for Disease Control which is under the Public Health Service in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. CDC reports that a U.S. tourist contracted cutaneous anthrax after purchasing contaminated bongo drums made of untreated goatskin during a visit to Haiti.

Examination of various goatskin products with attached hair imported from Haiti revealed that a significant number were contaminated with anthrax spores. On April 19, the Quarantine Division of CDC banned further importation of products from Haiti made of untanned goatskin possessing animal hairs.

According to a Commission spokesman, local and State health officials were alerted to the potential hazard by CDC and were advised to insure the removal of these products from local stores.

The Commission is continuing a search to identify goatskin products from Haiti that may still be within the channels of distribution.

If it appears to be necessary, the Commission will take appropriate action to make sure these products are not reaching consumers.

Anthrax is an acute bacterial disease which can be fatal for humans if untreated. It can be transmitted from a product bearing the anthrax spores through skin contact, inhalation or ingestion of contaminated foods.

Anthrax infection is not contagious from one person to another. The disease may start with a blister or pustule and can develop into a depressed area of dead tissue with a dark crust. Fever and other symptoms may not appear until the disease is severe.