Eighth anthrax death in Scotland

An eighth heroin user in Scotland has died after becoming infected with anthrax, health officials have confirmed, and another drug user has been confirmed to be infected with the bacteria.

Both the new infection and the death occurred in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, the region that has been hardest hit by the recent anthrax outbreak.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has had both the highest rate of infection by what is believed to be heroin tainted with anthrax as well as the most deaths dating back to the beginning of the outbreak in December.

A total of 17 confirmed cases of anthrax infection are currently known across six NHS boards in Scotland. In addition to Scotland's eight deaths, there has been one death from tainted anthrax reported in Germany.

The outbreak, according to a Health Protection Scotland spokesman, is considered "ongoing" among heroin users, with an investigation by health boards, the procurator fiscal and Strathclyde Police seeking to identify the anthrax's source.

The deadly anthrax bacterial infection occurs mostly in animals in Asia and Africa and seldom infects humans. Anthrax infections spread from person to persons are considered extremely rare, leading officials to believe that either the heroin users have become infected with is contaminated with anthrax or that a cutting agent used on the drug is to blame.