Scottish heroin addict contracts anthrax

An intravenous drug user in Scotland was recently hospitalized after contracting anthrax.

The patient, a known heroin user from the county of Lanarkshire, is in stable condition, but few other details have been released about how he may have acquired the illness, according to

Public health officials worry that there is an infected supply of heroin in circulation the area.

"It is possible that heroin contaminated with anthrax may be circulating in Lanarkshire and potentially other parts of Scotland," Dr. David Cromie, consultant in public health medicine at NHS Lanarkshire, said, reports. "There have been recent reports of anthrax from contaminated heroin in other Western European Countries, the most recent reported outbreak being in Germany.

"It is important that drug users are aware of the particular dangers involved when they are injecting heroin. Clinicians and microbiologist are on alert to the possibility of anthrax in heroin users who present with appropriate signs and symptoms. Injecting drug users known to Lanarkshire addiction services are being contacted to raise their awareness."

Scotland faced a similar series of anthrax infections among heroin users in 2010. At that time, a contaminated batch of the drug is believed to have caused 119 infections and 14 deaths. A report concluded the anthrax outbreak was the first of its kind associated with heroin use. Since then, there have been similar cases in Germany and Denmark, according to the BBC.