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Health officials issue fresh Anthrax warnings to heroin users
10:59am Friday 2nd November 2012 in News
DRUG users are this morning being warned not to ignore rashes and swellings in the aftermath of a person contracting anthrax.
There have been four previous anthrax cases in the UK linked to injecting drugs and health service staff had been working to warn heroin users about the dangers and symptoms.
A person in Oxford has been diagnosed with an anthrax inection, the Health Protection Agency has said this morning, leading to fresh warnings being put out to people across the county about symptoms drug users should be aware of.
It is feared there may be contaminated batches in Oxfordshire and the wider Thames Valley.
An HPA spokesman said NHS staff were made aware of the possibility of cases of anthrax in people who inject heroin following the first UK case earlier this year.
Targeted information, including posters and leaflets aimed at heroin users were also sent out by the National Treatment Agency to local drug partnerships for distribution to all organisations in touch with drug users, including hostels, housing departments, needle exchanges, benefit offices, community pharmacies and social work departments.
Dr Éamonn O’Moore, director of the HPA’s Thames Valley Health Protection Unit, said: "In light of this recent case in Oxford, we have advised local Drug and Alcohol Action Teams to talk to their service users who inject drugs about the risk of anthrax infection.
"Injecting drug users often experience skin infection but we strongly advise them not to ignore signs such as redness or excessive swelling around injection sites, or other symptoms of general illness such a high temperature, chills, severe headaches or breathing difficulties.
"They should seek medical advice quickly in such circumstances generally but particularly now because we have concerns that some batches of heroin in circulation in Oxfordshire and the wider Thames Valley may be contaminated with anthrax.
"Early treatment with antibiotics is essential for a successful recovery."
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