France issues anthrax-laced heroin warning

At least eight people have died in Europe - seven in Scotland and one in Germany - since the beginning of December stemming from what is believed to be heroin tainted with anthrax.

Another 14 heroin users have been hospitalized after being diagnose with anthrax. Additionally, a cluster of nine suspicious heroin-related deaths have been reported in Coimbra, Portugal, though it is not known if those are linked to anthrax-tainted heroin.

In reaction, the French government has issued a statement through the General Directorate for Health warning that contaminated heroin could be circulating in France and other countries throughout Europe.

The statement said that heroin users need to be on alert as the anthrax contaminated heroin is indistinguishable from any other heroin.

"There is no outward sign or color enabling the user to tell whether the heroin has been contaminated by anthrax, and contaminated heroin dissolves or is used in the same way as uncontaminated heroin," the statement, which notes the current death toll, says.

In Europe,t he vast majority of heroin consumed originates in Afghanistan. Speculation currently centers on anthrax spores that could have come from bone meal, which is an animal product used as a cutting agent in heroin.

A different theory also under consideration is that containers used during the heroin production process were contaminated with anthrax spores.