English hospital put on full alert during anthrax panic

The medical staff at Doncaster Royal Infirmary in South Yorkshire, England, were put on full alert after an anthrax panic on Sunday.

The incident occurred when a woman turned up at the hospital after potentially taking a suspected heroin overdose. It was suspected that the heroin had been laced with the infectious spores of the anthrax-causing Bacillus anthracis bacteria, the Doncaster Free Press reports.

A hospital source said that the department used a "terminal clean," a cleaning process using powerful chemicals used to kill all bacteria, in addition to replacing all affected hospital curtains. The woman was in isolation in the intensive care unit after the anthrax panic.

According to the hospital, the terminal clean was done as a precautionary measure after the Sunday night incident. There have been no reported cases of a patient being poisoned with anthrax.

"The patient is not being treated for anthrax," a hospital spokeswoman said, according to the Doncaster Free Press. "This was one of many diagnoses postulated on admission given the patient's past medical history and presentation. The patient's present condition remains critical and a working diagnosis has been obtained, as such is receiving appropriate supportive therapy."

Anthrax was used as a weapon in the 2001 postal service attacks in the United States that infected 22 people and killed five.