Scottish heroin users warned of anthrax-laced batch

Heroin users in Scotland have been warned that a batch of heroin could be infected with anthrax after an addict was admitted to a local hospital with the deadly disease.

The infected patient was in critical but stable condition at an NHS Lanarkshire hospital on Tuesday, while heroin users were advised to avoid the drug. If unable to stop, addicts were advised to smoke the drug because it carries less risk of anthrax infection, the Daily Record reports.

"It is possible that heroin contaminated with anthrax may be circulating in Lanarkshire and other parts of Scotland," David Cromie, the health board's public health medicine consultant, said, according to the Daily Record. "There have been recent reports of anthrax from contaminated heroin in other western European countries. The most recent reported outbreak was in Germany. The advice to drug users is to avoid all heroin use, which we recognize may be very difficult. Muscle-popping, skin-popping and injecting when a vein has been missed are particularly dangerous. Smoking heroin carries much less risk."

Between 2009 and 2010, more than 100 people were infected during an outbreak of anthrax among drug users in Scotland. Fourteen people died during the outbreak.

Anthrax is a deadly bacterial infection that has symptoms including an itchy, inflamed and raised pimples that becomes a swollen blister and then a black scab.