Cambridge heroin users alerted about anthrax

Heroin users in Cambridge, United Kingdom, have been warned about the possibility of drug contamination with anthrax.

David Cupit, the countywide service manager for Cambridgeshire Inclusion, said that heroin users should get help through rehab or methadone to avoid being infected with the lethal bacteria. Cambridgeshire Inclusion runs addiction services throughout the city of Cambridge, Cambridge News reports.

"It is horrifying that the drug has been contaminated with the bacterial form of anthrax and we are warning heroin users not to inject or smoke the drug," Cupit said, according to Cambridge News. "Instead they can get help, whether it is going straight into a rehab or they may be prescribed with substitutes like methadone."

The Health Protection Agency issued a warning after a drug user died in a Blackpool hospital of a confirmed anthrax infection. Since early June, there have been seven cases of anthrax in Europe, including one in France, two in Denmark, three in Germany and one in Scotland.

"When we first see a heroin user we warn them about the danger of the contaminated heroin and give them advice," Cupit said, according to Cambridge News. "Our policy is about harm reduction so we advise users not to inject because the heroin can be contaminated with all sorts of dangerous and nasty substances.

Anthrax is found in herbivorous mammals and can be transmitted to humans. Anthrax cannot be passed from person to person.

Humans can be cured with antibiotics if the infection is caught early enough.