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Anthrax outbreak among drug users in UK and Germany

16 Apr 2010

A total of 33 cases of anthrax infection have been confirmed in Scotland since the beginning of December 2009 among heroin users, including 11 fatal cases; the latest case was reported on 12 April 2010 from the Lothian NHS board and is alive.

The cases occurred in the catchment areas of NHS Forth Valley (1 case - 1 death), NHS Tayside (3 cases - 2 deaths), NHS Lanarkshire (4 cases - all alive), NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area (15 cases - including 7 deaths), Ayrshire and Arran (1 case, alive), NHS Fife (3 cases – 1 death) and NHS Dumfries & Galloway (5 case – all alive). Health Protection Scotland is regularly updating the information on the web.

As of 16 April 2010, the UK health authorities reported 3 confirmed case of anthrax among injecting heroin users in England, 2 in HPA London region (1 death) and 1 in HPA North West Region (1 death). The UK Health Protection Agency is regularly updating the information for England.

As of 16 April 2010, 2 cases of anthrax in injecting drug users were reported in Germany. The first case was reported by German health authorities on 12 January 2010 in an injecting drug user in the Nordrhein-Westfalen region. The case was hospitalised on 6 December 2009 and died from multiorgan failure on 13 December 2009. Laboratory tests carried out in Germany on this confirmed case have shown that the strain is indistinguishable from the strains isolated from cases in Scotland.  On 31 March 2010, a second case of anthrax in an injecting drug user was confirmed by the national health authorities from the same region as the first case. The new case is a male currently under treatment and in stable clinical conditions. The Robert Koch Institute made this information available on the web.

As of 16 April 2010, the total number of cases of anthrax among heroin users in EU since December 2009 is 38 cases including 15 deaths.

The conclusions from the ECDC/EMCDDA threat assessment updated on 12 February 2010 are still valid, and available at:
Anthrax outbreak among drug users, Scotland and Germany, Joint ECDC and EMCDDA threat assessment

 

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