28th Oct 2014

Anthrax and Natural Hide Drum Heads

Being a drummer does not come without risk to the body. For those familiar with drumming, whether onstage or in a drum circle, physical injury can occur if the drummer is not properly warmed up, or even ignores advice about posture, drum placement or even how to hold drum sticks or mallets. What most drummers are never warned about is the risk of contracting anthrax while beating on a djembe, bongos or other hand drums. The reason is simple: there is only a slight risk of contracting anthrax from the natural hide of a hand drum.

In 2009, a woman participating in a drum circle contracted gastrointestinal anthrax that was traced to two of the animal hide drums used in the circle. Anthrax was also discovered on an electrical outlet in the room where the drum circle occurred.


One drum that tested positive was a gift to the ministry, the other had not been played in many years. Typically speaking, gastrointestinal anthrax can be contracted from eating undercooked meat, but, it can also be airborne, as was the case in this example. The drumming was thought to cause a release of the anthrax spores into the air, and the woman, a vegetarian, unfortunately ingested a spore, causing the illness.

Even though gastrointestinal anthrax may be the least common form of anthrax (respiratory and cutaneous anthrax infections are most common), X8 Drums understands that any risk is a risk, and we take the safety of our customers and the drumming community as a whole very seriously. When you purchase an animal hide drum, always be sure to ask questions about the process that is used in the manufacturing. For example, X8 Drums only works with established factories around the world that fulfill our standards of quality and safety. We have strict regulations on the treatment of the animal skin drum heads, in order to provide our customers with the safest product available. This treatment includes either a bleaching process or chemical process that kills off any bacteria or other contaminants that could be harmful to the drummer.

Any drummer should understand the risks and rewards that come with drumming – whether in a band, a drum circle or just as a hobby. With any of the natural animal hide hand drums on the market, taking the time to trace the materials can be beneficial and eliminate any possibility of illness due to poor manufacturing techniques. At X8 Drums, we are happy to provide you with any information about the origin of your drum, and best practices when it comes to safety. After all, we’re drummers, too, and nothing makes us happier than to keep those rhythms alive.