Five men arrested in connection with heroin anthrax death

Five men have been arrested in connection the death of a 29-year-old heroin user from Leicestershire, England, who died after being infected with anthrax.

The arrests, police told the BBC, were part of an ongoing investigation into the death of Tom Forbes, who died on August 26 after using heroin that was tainted with anthrax.

Most recently, a 45-year-old man from New Yorkshire was arrested and is still in custody, according to the BBC. Four Loughborough men had already taken into custody and questioned. They were released on police bail.

Police officials told the BBC that they are still waiting on the final results of an autopsy performed on Forbes’ body.

The Forbes case marks the fourth time since February that anthrax has been detected in a heroin user in England.

From December 2009 to May of this year, there were 39 confirmed cases of anthrax in Scotland heroin users. Of those cases, 12 resulted in deaths.

Officials say there is no way to tell whether or not the drug is contaminated and that heroin users run the risk of contracting anthrax whether they inject or smoke the drug. Anthrax symptoms for users who smoke the drug include flu symptoms, difficulty breathing and nausea, health officials told the BBC.

The symptoms for heroin users who inject the drug are more severe and include swelling and redness near the injection site, which can turn into an abscess. Other symptoms include nausea and severe headaches.

The onset of symptoms can occur anywhere between one to seven days after infection. If the infection is to be treated successfully, prompt action is required.

Health officials are also asking heroin users to stop taking the drug and to seek treatment immediately.