Published Date: 2012-08-17 13:25:40
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Anthrax, human - UK (05): (England) new heroin case
Archive Number: 20120817.1249471
ANTHRAX, HUMAN - UK (05): (ENGLAND) NEW HEROIN CASE
A ProMED-mail post
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International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Fri 17 Aug 2012
Source: Google, UK Press Association (UKPA) report [summ., edited]
A drug user has died after being infected with anthrax, health experts have said. The Health Protection Agency said that a person who injected drugs died in hospital in Blackpool.
The news comes after a spate of cases in Europe since early June . The HPA said the source of the infection is presumed to be contaminated heroin. The HPA said it is "unclear" whether the case in Blackpool and another case in Scotland -- which was confirmed at the end of July  -- are linked to the European outbreak.
Dr Dilys Morgan, an expert in zoonotic infections at the HPA, said: "It's likely that further cases among PWID (people who inject drugs) will be identified as part of the ongoing outbreak in EU countries. The Department of Health has alerted the NHS of the possibility of PWID presenting to emergency departments and walk-in clinics, with symptoms suggestive of anthrax.
"Anthrax can be cured with antibiotics, if treatment is started early. It is therefore important for medical professionals to know the signs and symptoms to look for, so that there are no delays in providing the necessary treatment."
Castleview Pedigree English Longhorns
Date: Fri 17 Aug 2012
Source: BBC News [edited]
A drug user has died in a Lancashire hospital after being infected with anthrax, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said. It is understood the victim is a man from north west England. The HPA said the death happened in Blackpool and the person had injected drugs. It is the 8th case recently reported in several European countries.
NHS Blackpool said heroin, or a contaminated cutting agent mixed with it, was the likely source of infection. But the HPA said it was "unclear" whether the case in Blackpool and another case in Lanarkshire in Scotland -- which was confirmed at the end of July  -- were linked to the European outbreak.
HPA staff are visiting drug treatment centres to make people aware of the risks.
Dr Dilys Morgan, an expert at the HPA, said: "It's likely that further cases among PWID (people who inject drugs) will be identified as part of the ongoing outbreak in EU countries." It normally infects humans when they inhale or ingest anthrax spores. [But now when they inject themselves. - Mod.MHJ] There have been 7 confirmed cases of the infection since June  -- one in Scotland, 3 in Germany, 2 in Denmark, and one in France.
These are the 1st cases of anthrax among drug users in Europe since an outbreak in 2009-10, which saw 119 cases in Scotland, 5 in England, and 2 in Germany. 14 people died in that outbreak. A report into the outbreak, published last December , concluded the method of anthrax contamination was unknown but it could have come from contact via a single infected animal or contaminated hide, somewhere in transit between Afghanistan or Pakistan and Scotland, probably in Turkey.
It said: "There remains a risk that at any time, pathogen contaminated heroin could be imported to the UK again, causing another outbreak of anthrax or similar infection."
Although the 2 outbreaks have not officially been linked, European health experts said the recent cases could have come from the same batch of contaminated heroin in the 2009-2010 outbreak.
An alert about an ongoing outbreak of anthrax among drug users was circulated to NHS hospitals at the end of June .
[More or less as expected. In the pre- and post-WWII days Blackpool was a popular holiday venue for working class Brits and had a rich tradition of comedy theatre and popular music. The availability of trains starting in 1840 made it a resort for the industrial Midlands. Times change and it has latterly been somewhat ignored as their clientele went across the channel on holiday. For more on Blackpool, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackpool.
These are early days in this investigation, but further information should be forthcoming. - Mod.MHJ
A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: http://healthmap.org/r/36My.]