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Warnings over heroin containing anthrax

There have been 2 deaths linked to heroin containing anthrax in the Blackpool area. The Health Protection Agency have issued this advice:

“Anthrax can be cured with antibiotics, if treatment is started early.

Drug users may become infected with anthrax when heroin is contaminated with anthrax spores. This could be a source of infection if injected, smoked or snorted.

We urge all heroin users to seek urgent medical advice if they experience signs of infection such as redness or excessive swelling at or near an injection site, or other symptoms of general illness such a high temperature, chills, severe headaches or breathing difficulties.”

– Dr Ncube, Health Protection Agency

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Drug user with anthrax infection has died in Blackpool

A drug user has died in hospital in Blackpool with confirmed anthrax infection, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said today.

The HPA said said the person had injected drugs and that there is an ongoing outbreak of anthrax affecting drug users in a number of countries in Europe. Seven cases have been identified since June:

  • Scotland - 1
  • Germany - 3
  • Denmark - 2
  • France - 1

The source is presumed to be contaminated heroin.

The HSA said it is unclear as yet whether this case and a case in Scotland at the end of July are linked to the outbreak in Europe and will continue to monitor the situation.