Second British heroin user dies of anthrax
The U.K. Health Protection Agency said that the victim, who died in Blackpool, northwest England, most likely contracted the deadly pathogen from contaminated heroin. It remains unclear as to whether the British cases are directly linked to a series of eight other infections that have been reported in Europe since June, according to BBC.
"This could be a source of infection if injected, smoked or snorted ... there is no safe route for consuming heroin or other drugs that may be contaminated with anthrax spores," the HPA said, BBC reports.
The Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction both said that European heroin users still risk exposure to the bacterial infection.
Four of the 10 European cases were reported in the United Kingdom, three were in Germany, two were in Denmark and one in France.
"We urge all heroin users to seek urgent medical advice if they experience signs of infection such as redness or excessive swelling at or near an injection site, or ... high temperature, chills, severe headaches or breathing difficulties," HPA expert Fortune Ncube said, BBC reports.