Anthrax Found In Bodies Of Two Drug Addictshttp://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20091217/tuk-anthrax-found-in-bodies-of-two-drug-45dbed5.htmlTraces of anthrax have been found in two heroin users - one of whom has died in hospital.
The male victim, who has not been named, died at the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow on Wednesday.
He is believed to have died from the anthrax infection.
A second heroin user, a woman, has also tested positive for the deadly bacteria and is being treated at the same hospital.
A third drug user, who is being treated at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, is being tested for anthrax.
Health officials said all three patients had soft-tissue infections in areas of the body they injected with heroin.
But it is not known if the three cases are directly linked.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's Public Health Protection Unit 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 an agent used to cut the drug, may be to blame.
Dr Syed Ahmed, consultant in public health medicine, said the risk to the general public was "negligible".
He urged all drug-injecting heroin users to be "extremely alert" and to seek "urgent medical advice" if they experience an infection.
He added: "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."
Any heroin users admitted to hospital with serious soft-tissue infections now or during the last four weeks will now be investigated for anthrax.
The disease was suspected of being responsible for a spate of deaths among Scottish heroin addicts in 2000.
New Scientist magazine reported that tests at the UK biological defence lab in Porton Down found signs of infection in dead addicts.
But health officials in Glasgow, where several of the deaths took place, insisted at the time that the drug users were not infected by anthrax.
Anthrax is a bacterial infection which occurs most often in wild and domestic animals in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe.