Anthrax Kills Drug User In Blackpool, Health Protection Agency Report

17/08/2012 11:58 BST | Updated 17/08/2012 12:00 BST

A drug user has died after being infected with anthrax, health experts said.

The Health Protection Agency said that a person who injected drugs died in hospital in Blackpool.

The news comes after a spate of cases in Europe since early June. The HPA said the source of the infection is presumed to be contaminated heroin.

It is "unclear" whether the case in Blackpool and another case in Scotland - which was confirmed at the end of July - are linked to the European outbreak.

Anthrax is a bacterial infection and is primarily a disease of herbivorous mammals, though other animals and some birds can also contract it.

Dr Dilys Morgan, an expert in zoonotic infections at the HPA, said: "It's likely that further cases among PWID (people who inject drugs) will be identified as part of the ongoing outbreak in EU countries.

"The Department of Health has alerted the NHS of the possibility of PWID presenting to emergency departments and walk-in clinics, with symptoms suggestive of anthrax.

"Anthrax can be cured with antibiotics, if treatment is started early. It is therefore important for medical professionals to know the signs and symptoms to look for, so that there are no delays in providing the necessary treatment."