Public health officials in Glasgow, Scotland, said on Thursday
they were searching for the cause of a
mystery illness which has so far claimed
the lives of eight drug addicts.
The progession of the illness, which is linked to injecting heroin, takes several days. First victims develop an abscess on the point of injection. Later, respiratory problems and organ failure develop. Dotors fear there will be more cases of the mystery disease.
In the last 11 days 19 drug
users in the city have developed the condition, of whom eight have died. One of the most notable things about thes cases is that 14 women and only
five men have died. Normally, more men than women develop problems with
drug injecting. Despite all the therapy, the infected addicts are dying from the illness, which is very similar to septicemia.
Police have set up a special unit to investigate
The focus of the investigation has moved away from citric acid,
which was originally thought to have been
causing the illness.
Dr Laurence Gruer, public health consultant
with Greater Glasgow Health Board, said: "It
looks more likely to be something in the heroin
Strathclyde Police chief
constable, John Orr, said claims that heroin
had been contaminated were being
The illness is potentially so serious that
Glasgow-based drugs worker Andrew Horne has
advised some heroin users to smoke and not
inject the substance, until the cause is
Despite the fact the cause has not been
traced, officials believe the cases to be a one-time problem.