• Anthrax has recently been identified in heroin users in Scotland (and Germany)
  • Caused by Bacillus anthracis (fatal if bacteraemic or meningeal involvement)
  • Seem with both IV use and smoking heroin
  • No cases yet in Ireland - please contact HPSC if any suspicion


If the person injecting:

  • Swelling & redness at injection site (± painful)
  • Abscess or ulcer at an injection site
  • Fever, headache or nausea

If smoking heroin:

  • 'Flu like illness (fever, headache, myalgia, cough)
  • Breathlessness
  • Sudden death, esp. if extensive skin lesions

Anthrax is not a risk for those who had normal family and social or medical contact with people who have developed anthrax.

Content by Dr Íomhar O' Sullivan 03/03/2010. Last review Dr ÍOS 10/06/21.