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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
August 13, 2014

Heroin Use Leads to Anthrax

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;312(6):590. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.9323

Researchers in the United Kingdom warn that patients who inject illicit drugs and present with sepsis, soft-tissue infection, or multiorgan failure may have contracted a novel type of anthrax from contaminated heroin.

The new form of anthrax emerged during an outbreak during 2009 to 2010 in Scotland and another in 2012 to 2013 in northern Europe and Germany. Health officials reported 53 cases, including 17 deaths, in the first outbreak. Fourteen cases, including 5 deaths, were reported in the second outbreak.

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