Seventh anthrax death in Scotland

In a chilling sign that Scotland's anthrax outbreak among heroin users is spreading, a seventh death - the second in Tayside - has been announced by officials.

The victim, believed to be a 41-year-old man from Dundee, is believed to have used contaminated heroin, which was also the cause of death of a 55-year-old Dundee drug user who was believed to be the first east coast anthrax death.

Health officials do not know the origin of the anthrax outbreak, which has so far been found only in heroin users, but believe it stems from a bad batch or heroin or a contaminated cutting agent mixed with heroin by addicts.

The number of infected heroin users has also raised to 14 following the recent confirmation in the NHS Fife area of a woman who contracted the infection.

The deaths have been described by Gordon Meldrum, director general of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, as "disturbing." Medlrum has said that a major probe is under way of the anthrax deaths and that the matters was being treated very seriously by all relevant authorities.

“The Scottish Police Service is now co-ordinating the investigation into a number of drug-related deaths across the country in order to gather as much information as possible about possible links and causes," Meldrum told the Paisley Daily Express. “Illegal drugs are often prepared in unhygienic surroundings and can be vulnerable to contamination from various harmful agents.

“Those involved in the trafficking of drugs are driven by profit and have no care for the harm they can cause or the health of those who take these potentially lethal drugs.”