Case of Anthrax identified in injecting drug user in England


The Health Protection Agency, UK has announced that a person who injected drugs has died in hospital in Blackpool, Lancashire with confirmed anthrax infection.

There is an ongoing outbreak of anthrax among injecting drug users that has affected a number of countries in Europe. Seven cases have been identified since early June: one in Scotland, three in Germany, two in Denmark, and one in France. The source is presumed to be contaminated heroin. These are the first cases of anthrax among injecting drug users in Europe since the outbreak during 2009/2010 which principally affected Scotland (119 cases), but with cases also reported from England (five cases) and Germany (two cases). The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) have jointly prepared a rapid risk assessment which concludes that heroin users in Europe are still at risk of exposure to anthrax.

Clinicians and Public Health Physicians in Ireland have been alerted to these recent cases.

Further information:

HPA press statement on latest anthrax case

HPA Anthrax information

Further information on the original Scottish outbreak

Useful Scottish FAQs on anthrax and IDUs

ECDC Risk Assessment (13/7/2012) on the Continental European cluster

HPSC’s website has information on anthrax available at