Heroin addicts facing ‘deadly threat’
A WOMAN who injected heroin was being treated for the effects of anthrax today following the death of another drug user.
Health officials in Glasgow believe the two patients who tested positive for anthrax may have taken contaminated heroin.
A man died at the city’s Victoria Infirmary on Wednesday, where the woman is now being treated.
Doctors are waiting for test results of a third drug user at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, although they are not yet linking the cases.
Anthrax is a bacterial infection and occurs mostly in animals in Asia and Africa, with humans rarely infected.
An outbreak control team set up by the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board was due to meet today.
Public health consultant Dr Syed Ahmed said all health agencies working with people who inject themselves have been advised.
He said the anthrax risk to the general public was “negligible” but all drug-injecting heroin users should seek urgent medical advice if they experience an infection.
“It is extremely rare for anthrax to be spread from person to person and there is no significant risk of airborne transmission from one person to another,” he said.
The health board is working with the Procurator Fiscal and Strathclyde Police to identify the source of the anthrax.
One possibility being investigated is that contaminated heroin, or a contaminated agent used to cut the heroin, may be to blame.
Heroin is often sourced from countries where anthrax is more prevalent in animals.
Bone meal is sometimes used as a cutting agent.
December 18, 2009