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  1. catseye
    A drug user has died in a Lancashire hospital after being infected with anthrax, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said

    The HPA said the person, who died in Blackpool, had injected drugs.

    The death comes amid an outbreak of anthrax among people who inject drugs in a number of European countries.

    NHS Blackpool said heroin, or a contaminated cutting agent mixed with it, was the likely source of infection.

    It said the death had similarities to 19 cases in Scotland.

    But the HPA said it was "unclear" whether the case in Blackpool and another case in Scotland - which was confirmed at the end of July - were linked to the European outbreak.

    Dr Dilys Morgan, an expert at the HPA, said: "It's likely that further cases among PWID (people who inject drugs) will be identified as part of the ongoing outbreak in EU countries."

    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.

    There have been seven confirmed cases of the infection since June - one in Scotland, three in Germany, two in Denmark, and one in France.

    These are the first cases of anthrax among drug users in Europe since an outbreak in 2009-10 which saw 119 cases in Scotland, five in England and two in Germany.

    Although the two outbreaks have not officially been linked, European health experts said the recent cases could have come from the same batch of contaminated heroin in the 2009-2010 outbreak.

    Analysis:

    James Gallagher, Health and Science reporter

    Anthrax is a very rare and very deadly bacterial infection caused by Bacillus anthracis.

    It can exist as spores, meaning it can hide for long periods of time in the environment before infecting somebody.

    There has been an outbreak in heroin users across northern Europe with cases in Germany, Denmark, France and the UK.

    The theory is that a batch of heroin has been contaminated with anthrax spores.

    This would cause infection when the drug was injected, smoked, or snorted.

    Anthrax can be treated with antibiotics, however, treatment needs to start early.

    Many people will be familiar with anthrax for its potential as a biological weapon, however, it is extremely rare for anthrax to spread from person to person.

    17 August 2012
    BBC News Lancashire
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-19296254

Comments

  1. Solinari
    Drug services need to issue 0.1/0.2µm wheel filters and this should go a long way to filtering out any anthrax spores, right?

    My heart goes out to the family of the unfortunate victim.
  2. corvardus
    Just wondered whether providing such filters would be too onerous in terms of finance. Just did a quick search and found 0.2µm sterile cellulose syringe filters at £97.30 for a pack of 100. I would like to point out, though, that using such a filter would not be a guarantee for complete safety but, as you said, it might go a long way in minimising risk.
  3. Aberdonian
    in harm reduction costs that aint too expensive, when i got put on fent patches i went to pharmacy for a box of sterets,pre injection swabs to clean area for patch, exchanges hand these out 100-200 a time, 1 box of 100 cost me £37 in the pharmacy ! if they can afford to hand them out like that wheel filters should be no problem!
  4. catseye
    Sadly the way that harm reduction programmes have been cut lately, it probably is linked to cost :(

    Wheel filters are expensive, and although some NSP's apparently hand them out they are out of the price range of most...if it boils down to a decision between providing the basics such as clean needles and cookers or cutting back on those essentials to fund a more expensive (but safer) filter - well, the essentials will win.

    Just a fyi to anyone reading this, I've uploaded INPUD's anthrax advice sheet into the archives HERE
  5. bubbly nubs
    How would one go abut protecting themselves from a potential infection from this contaminated heroin? Seems like a bit of a lucky dip really...
  6. Solinari
    Wow, I have no idea they were that expensive. Nearly a £1 a pop.

    It's not guarenteed it would do the job as well...



    Source -
    INPUD Anthrax Alert – Information for Heroin Users


  7. bubbly nubs
    I'm disappointed with the lack of harm reduction advice advice in this thread. Maybe there isn't anything that can be done I guess.
  8. corvardus
    This is the News area of the site.

    Perhaps you might try the Heroin sub-fora and ask there.
  9. bubbly nubs
    I am aware of that, but discussion is encouraged in the news section...

  10. corvardus
    There is discussion and then there is discussion. You said you were "disappointed" that there was no "harm reduction advice" yet there were two links to the "peer"-suggested harm-reducing advice regarding the Anthrax issue.

    Hall marks of the document linked:Giving the essential information (could be seen as harm-reduction)

    • Giving a possible solution (with the obvious non-guarantee caveat)
    • Providing details of the infection
    • Providing symptomology and sequelae
    • Advice to seek medical advice as soon as possible as the symptoms present themselves.
    • Advice and reassurance to third-party individuals.
    The only other discussions I could think of would be for harm-reducing organisations to provide autoclaving facilities (I believe 132°C for 30 minutes would be sufficient to kill anthrax spores). Hell I have access to autoclaves that could do the job. The thing is though the anthrax issue is directly relevant and evidence as to the harms of prohibition rather than a cogent drug-management policy.

    The best thing that could be done instead of wheel filters would be to offer autoclaving facilities of ones gear where one would guarantee (it's the de facto standard for sterilisation) that the shit you're pumping into ones body is completely sterile. Not just for anthrax but for everything.They are quite expensive though and if it is a public organisation it will also have regulatory controls over it (service and testing).

    The only other issue is for the drug users to trust their gear to someone else for upwards of two hours (it takes time to cool down). Woe betide if the volunteers make a mistake with them! ;)
  11. Solinari
    Autoclaving, NEVER happen, they can barely bring themselves to open shooting galleries let alone medical professionals being there sterilising people's gear. What if something goes wrong and someone drops it or spills it or if the gear is not gear at all but some bunk someone got sold and it melts like sugar? It comes out the oven and they go back home and discover it isn't heroin, what then, back with a blade and a demand for money?

    Way way too many pitfalls and impracticalities let along the fact that people will simply not take advantage of it even if it was offered, waste of money.

    We aren't exactly dealing with the most educated demography here, I hate to tar everyone with the same brush but come on we all know by in large it's true at least for the 90%+ (more like 5-sigma for the people I know) of the people we see in real life just don't care and know no better. A week or so ago someone said "I don't think they are putting that much anthrax in it", as if it's some evil terrorists in a lab spiking the heroin before it gets shipped. They didn't even understand it's natural anthrax, hell I doubt they even knew anthrax was natural and probably equated it to sarin gas or something.

    Best thing they could do is offer vaccines but I really not sure what the score is on them.
  12. corvardus
    Oh aye, I fully agree with this. Ultimately heroin users are going to have to accept until there is a national rational drug management policy (Myopic prohibition isn't it) then there will be a risk of contamination from any number of pathogens.

    You take the risk every time you shoot up. Just like individuals who don't wrap little Billy up before he goes cave diving with STD's and the like.

    The same can be said of the general population, to be frank. If one is prisoner inside ones own mind (addiction) then rationality is hardly the go-to frame of mind that is ascendant. As such behaviours will be geared towards acquisition of more and the warping of internal risk assessments. Essentially ignoring a clear and present threat. I guess one could say it's a kind of faith.
  13. bubbly nubs
    No need to patronise cor, I'm simply asking if anyone else had MORE advice than was given. I'm not thick OK, I can read, and did read the "harm reduction advice". It's only really related to injecting. Im wondering if there is ANYTHING ELSE that can be done for NON INJECTING users. No idea what you mean by "discussion and discussion". A lot of people will read this article and not want to have to go to a different forum to look at related information, why do you have a problem with this happening here? I know I'd want "harm reduction advice" provided when and where it will benefit most.
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