Australian health officials wary of anthrax infections

Australian health officials have put the nation's drug users on alert about potential deadly batches of anthrax infected heroin, which have already accounted for at least ten deaths and more than 20 infections in Europe.

Dr. John Carnie, Victoria's chief health officer, issued a separate warning to the state's doctors need to be aware of the potential infections.

"There is the likelihood, however remote, something like this may occur here," a spokesman for Dr. Carnie told Australia's Herald Sun, noting that all warnings now were purely a precautionary measure.

The chief executive for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation center, Stefan Gruenert, told the Herald Sun that, as a result of the anthrax scare, heroin users "are geared up for it happening in Australia."

"They are prepared and we are on the lookout," Gruenert told the Herald Sun. "On the one hand we don't want to spread fear and concern but at the same time people should be informing each other to keep a lookout and be prepared in case it does reach here."

Health workers have been warned to be on the lookout for drug using patients who exhibit severe soft tissue infection, meningitis or severe sepsis. Symptoms of anthrax infection include chills, headaches and difficulty breathing.

The current European anthrax outbreak began in December in Glasgow before spreading to Germany and England. Health official with the U.K.'s Health Protection Agency have said that the Scottish anthrax strain is indistinguishable from the German victim and said that it must be assumed that all heroin in London also carried the risk of anthrax contamination.