Don’t miss that vein!

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Junkies across Europe are dying from injections — and not just because of the usual overdoses. Doctors have found signs of the deadly disease, anthrax, in the bodies of two Scottish heroin addicts who accidently shot the drug into muscle tissue instead of a vein, reports the NEW SCIENTIST. Ten other European heroin users are dead after making the same mistake, and several more are now sick.

Most of Europe’s heroin comes from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, where anthrax is endemic, and contaminated animal products such as gelatin or bone meal from the area may be present in the drug. A British scientist who analyzes confiscated heroin says no one checks it for infectious agents.

Anthrax spreads much more effectively through muscle than blood, so users who miss their mark may quickly develop lesions at the injection site, followed by fluid leakage around the heart and lungs, surging white blood cell counts, and death.

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