Fifty-six people have received treatment for potential anthrax infection after a man's suspected death from the deadly bug, health officials said yesterday.

Doctors in the Borders have been trying to trace anyone recently connected with Christopher "Pascal" Norris, who is thought to have died from pulmonary anthrax on July 8.

Experts believe the 50-year-old artist became infected through working at his home near Hawick with imported animal hides poisoned with the bug.

Since test results revealed his probable anthrax infection last Friday, doctors have been trying to trace people who visited his house in the past four weeks.

The property and its outbuildings in Stobs have now been sealed off and are being examined by environmental experts.

NHS Borders, which has set up an incident control team to deal with the scare, said that by 5.10pm yesterday 126 people had contacted its helpline.

This is in addition to 11 people initially identified who have been prescribed antibiotics as a precaution after coming into contact with Mr Norris.

Mr Norris, who was single, was a self-employed craftsman who made artworks and musical instruments, including drums.

He was taken ill in early July and died a few days later at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

A group of about ten close friends and family attended his funeral on July 24 and a much larger congregation was at his home where his ashes were scattered on July 29.

It is not clear how many of them have been identified or treated by the health board.

Experts have been quick to stress that there is not thought to be a risk to the public around his home as anthrax cannot normally be passed between human beings.