Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Addict death as anthrax spreads

Close up microscopic picture of the Anthrax virus
The infection has claimed its 10th victim and spread to southern Scotland

The total number of drug addicts who have died in Scotland after being infected with anthrax has reached 10.

The latest death was confirmed in the NHS Fife area by Health Protection Scotland.

A fresh case has also been reported in a heroin user in the NHS Dumfries and Galloway board area - the first such incident in the region.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 26, with all but two of them in Scotland.

The outbreak began with the identification of cases in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area in December.

It has since spread to NHS board areas in Ayrshire and Arran, Fife, Tayside, Forth Valley, Lanarkshire and now Dumfries and Galloway.

Health experts have said there is no way to tell if a batch of heroin is contaminated, and no measures can be taken to make it safe.

They have advised addicts to stop taking the drug "if at all possible".

Anthrax is a deadly bacterial infection which occurs mostly in animals in Asia and Africa.

Humans are seldom infected and it is extremely rare for anthrax to be spread from person to person.



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Anthrax fears over heroin batches
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