PRESS RELEASE FROM THE DANISH USERS UNION
Doctors at the Rigs Hospital in Copenhagen fear an acute hospitalized heroin-using patient may have contracted a deadly anthrax infection – from contaminated heroin.
The information comes from a Union member who is relative to a previously physically impaired 55 year old male drug user, who woke him up at 04.00 on Thursday morning and complained of severe pain after he in recent days had fixed brown heroin in the groin area. His leg and lower abdomen had suddenly started to swoll up very strongly, so he decided a few hours later to drive him to the Hospital trauma center where he was immediately hospitalized.
Friday morning, he suffered a heart attack and doctors put him in an artificial coma. A little later, he was also connected to a dialysis machine to support the now weakened kidney functions.
The relative said that doctors Friday let him know that his brother now seemed to have gotten a little better, but when he Saturday afternoon repeated the same question – ie whether the doctors thought that his brother had become better – the answer was disheartening. The doctor informed him that since late Friday there had been a deterioration of liver functions and the condition was now regarded as very serious. The doctor added that all signs point to a suspected anthrax bacterial infection – including a distinctive accumulation of tissue necrosis (gangrene) – that should be cut off as soon as possible.
Samples have been taken of the bacterial infection by the laboratory at the hospital which is expected to have the final results soon – and until then doctors at RH will not issue any warnings.
But the Users Union will not refrain from warning now – we in fact consider it extremely important that all drug users who inject are very aware that injecting may be associated with life danger – likely the brown heroin, and especially if you have difficulty to hit a vein. It is older and / or weak drug users who make errors or inject into muscles, which are mainly affected by this deadly infection.
Experts said that the anthrax bacterium is degraded by oxygen, and there is oxygen in the blood in the veins, but no or very little oxygen in the muscles and tissues – that is why mistaken fixes or muscle injections are considerably more dangerous.
Drug users who after an injection experience the injection area to become reddish and perhaps inflamed, should immediately contact a doctor or nearest hospital / emergency room, so it can be excluded that this is a case of an anthrax infection.
The undersigned participated Saturday afternoon when relatives delivered to the doctors at RH two different samples of the same type, respectively brown and yellow Afghan / Pakistani heroin, which were consumed in the days prior to admission. It is known that both types of heroin are acquired in the Copenhagen area – but the same heroin can be easily found in many other cities and regions of Denmark.
The heroin samples will be forwarded to a special laboratory at the Serum Institute during the Monday – but only if on Sunday it is found that there really is an anthrax bacterial infection.
The above may be the very first case in Denmark for 50 years.
But we stress, as doctors at RH – that so far there is only an assumption, being reasonably well-founded of a potentially deadly infection from heroin infected with anthrax bacteria.
BF learns from local user activists with personal knowledge of the reported anthrax outbreaks with deaths in England, Scotland and Ireland late 2009/10 whiwh costed the lives of 10 drug users that this was only a matter of brown heroin. On 22 June 2012 a similar anthrax death was reported in Regensburg in Germany.
Back in 2000 cost a similar anthrax epidemics costed 43 drug users lives – in the above countries, and one confirmed death in Norway.
In BF we have confidence in the explanation that anthrax infection may come from anthrax infected brown heroin (also called smoking heroin) derived from opium, which farmers in Afghanistan and Pakistan dry in the sun on sheep skin – surrounded by goat and sheep excrements (known to contain anthrax spores) that eventually turn to dust, which is spread by wind to the opium in the same area – and then included in heroin production.
The Danish Board of Health issued in March 2010 a general warning that can be read here.
The Users’ union will follow up on the developments.Republish