Anthrax deaths reported in Scotland

Health agencies in Scotland have been placed on alert following news that a drug user who recently died in a hospital tested positive for Anthrax.

The man, according to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, died in Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary on Wednesday. Additionally, a woman being treated at the hospital tested postive for anthrax.

A second man is being tested for anthrax as well. All three of the subjects had infections in the areas of their body in which they had injected heroin.

Strathclyde Police, the Procurator Fiscal and a public health team have begun working to identify the source of the anthrax and every drug user in Scotland treated for infections over the past month have been ordered to be tested.

One potential source for the infection comes from contaminated heroin or some agent used to cut the drug. Heroin, which is not produced in a sterile environment, frequently comes from countries where anthrax is present in the animal population.

This is not the first time anthrax has been the subject of drug related deaths in Scottish heroin addicts. Several deaths in 2000 were also attributed to the biothreat.

The last reported anthrax death in Britain was last November. In that death, Fernando Gomez, a drum maker, is believed to have inhaled anthrax spores while handling imported animal skins. Gomez died in a hospital in London.