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January 3, 1972

Infections in Heroin Addicts

JAMA. 1972;219(1):82. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03190270052015

Heroin addiction is complicated by a large variety of infectious diseases, all resulting from the use of unsterile equipment for injection of the drug. Two infections—infectious hepatitis and malaria—relate to the gregariousness of heroin addicts who are notorious for using a single syringe in "group therapy." Following World War II, sporadic cases of malaria were noted in civilian associates of soldieraddicts returning from malarious areas of the South Pacific. Similar reports are now appearing with the arrival of troops from Vietnam.

Other infections that may or may not be related to "passing the needle" include septic thrombophlebitis sometimes with septic pulmonary infarction, right-sided endocarditis with septic pulmonary infarction, left-sided endocarditis with septic embolization and abscesses and mycotic aneurysms, septic arthritis, skin abscesses, and tetanus.

To this list Holzman and Bishko1 have added a new one—osteomyelitis. They report four cases in which the hematogenous route seemed the only possible means