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Back To Vidyya Mysterious Drug Deaths In Scotland

Eight Heroin Deaths Reported In The Last Week

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 deaths. 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 itself."

Strathclyde Police chief constable, John Orr, said claims that heroin had been contaminated were being investigated.

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 confirmed.

Despite the fact the cause has not been traced, officials believe the cases to be a one-time problem.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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