Study investigates 2009 Scottish injectional anthrax outbreak

A recently released study conducted by experts in the U.S. and the United Kingdom examined a 2009 outbreak of B. anthracis, also known as injectional anthrax, in Scotland.

The study, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, found that the outbreak among those injecting drugs resulted in a death rate of 28 percent.

The data, collected during routine hospital care of patients, came from 16 survivors and 11 people who died. The results of the study revealed that, proportionally, more nonsurvivors had histories of excessive alcohol abuse and higher sequential organ failure assessment scores.

The study also found that while the duration of symptoms and the time it took to seek hospital care did not differ between survivors and nonsurvivors, the severity of their symptoms did. Most survivors reported symptoms that were localized around the site of injection, while nonsurvivors had generalized symptoms and evidence of sepsis.

Of the 14 patients studied who required vasopressors during their hospitalization, 11 died.

The 2009-2010 outbreak of injectional anthrax was considered to be over by the end of 2010, although 13 new cases were reported from June of 2012 to December of 2013 in the U.K. and Europe. The death rate of those patients has been close to 50 percent.