Anthrax outbreak in Scotland continues

The anthrax outbreak in Scotland stemming from what is believed to be tainted heroin has risen to 33 following confirmation by authorities of an infection in the NHS Lothian area.

This newest case is the first outbreak in the NHS Lothian area and follows on the heels of 11 reported anthrax-related deaths.

Following the discovery of the newest infection, Health Protection Scotland reminded citizens that the suspected heroin contaminated anthrax was still in circulation in Scotland.

"There is no way to tell if your heroin is contaminated and there is no way to take heroin which we can advise is safer or less likely to result in illness or death if it has anthrax contamination," Dr. Colin Ramsay, Health Protection Scotland's consultant epidemiologist, told the BBC.

"Drug users are advised that the only way to avoid the risk of anthrax in this outbreak is not to take heroin. While we appreciate that this may be extremely difficult advice to follow, it remains the only public health protection advice possible due to the nature of anthrax infection."

Questions have recently been raised by experts as to the source of the outbreak. The executive director for the Center for Health Policy & Preparedness at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and the center's medical director, in a Washington Times report, questioned if the continuing outbreak was part of a terror threat and not accidentally contaminated heroin.