Wound botulism in people who inject drugs in Scotland


Four cases of wound botulism have recently been notified to Health Protection Scotland (HPS). Three cases have been confirmed and one is a probable case with laboratory results pending.

The first confirmed case presented to NHS Fife in February, two more confirmed cases presented in March in NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC). The probable case presented in NHS Lanarkshire in early April. 

All cases presented with clinical features consistent with wound botulism, and all involve people who inject drugs (PWID). There have been no deaths among the identified cases.

Samples were obtained and sent to the reference lab for microbiological confirmation. The source of the infection is believed to be heroin contaminated with Clostridium botulinum spores. Scotland's last confirmed case of wound botulism among PWID was in 2017. 

In 2008, 6 cases of botulism were associated with an outbreak in people who inject drugs in Ireland.

Further information:
Confirmed cases of botulism in people who inject drugs (PWID) - Health Protection Scotland 9/4/19
Botulism - HPSC