Anthrax death toll in Scotland rises

The death toll in Scotland for drug users infected by anthrax through intravenous injections has risen to 10, health officials have said.

This newest death was confirmed by Health Protection Scotland to have occurred in the NHS Fife area.

In addition to the death, another infection has been reported in the NHS Dumfries and Galloway board area. This is the first infection to be reported in that region.

The newest reported infection brings the total number of United Kingdom infections to 26 - all but two have occurred in Scotland.

Another death related to the outbreak was reported in Germany in early February. Officials across Europe have warned of the tainted heroin.

The outbreak's origin was in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area last December, spreading to NHS board areas in Ayrshire and Arran, Fife, Tayside, Forth Valley and Lanarkshire.

Investigations have been launched into the source of the anthrax contamination with current theories centering on an infected cutting agent or a transportation method that had anthrax spores within it.

According to health experts, there is no method for identifying whether or not a batch of heroin is contaminated with anthrax and no measures are available to make the heroin safe.

Addicts have been advised by health officials to stop using heroin "if at all possible," the BBC has reported.