NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Public Health Protection Unit (PHPU) has confirmed the death of a injecting drug user who has tested positive for Anthrax.
Public health consultant Dr Syed Ahmed said: “This is an isolated case in Glasgow and there have been other sporadic cases in the UK and Europe in recent months. We are working with other services and colleagues to be on the lookout for any other possible cases especially amongst other injecting drug users.”
It is possible that contaminated heroin or a contaminated cutting agent mixed with the heroin may be responsible for the death. The PHPU is working with Strathclyde Police to identify a possible source.
Dr Ahmed added: “Drug injecting is extremely risky and dangerous. I urge all drug injecting heroin users to be extremely alert and to seek urgent medical advice if they experience an infection at the site of injection.”
While injecting drug users need to be on their guard, the risk to the rest of the population is negligible. It is extremely rare for anthrax to be spread from person to person and there is no significant risk of airborne transmission from one person to another.
Superintendent Grahame Clarke from Strathclyde Police added: "Following the confirmation by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde of a case of anthrax in an injecting drug user in Glasgow, we can confirm that Strathclyde Police is investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident and working closely with the health board and Health Protection Scotland.
"Some people might have concerns about coming forward to police, however, the safety and well-being of everyone in our communities is the Force's priority.
"I would appeal to anyone, especially drug users, to come to us with information that may enable us to trace the source of the anthrax and I'd echo NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's message to injecting heroin users to seek urgent medical advice if they experience an infection.
"Anyone with information is asked to contact their local police office or Crimestoppers, where anonymity can be maintained, on 0800 555 111."
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