News of the WeekPUBLIC HEALTH

Deaths Among Heroin Users Present a Puzzle

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Science  16 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5473, pp. 1941
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5473.1941a

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More than 30 heroin users in Scotland and Ireland have succumbed to a mysterious malady in the past 6 weeks, leading health officials to suspect anthrax, the notorious biological warfare agent. Now, analyses by microbe hunters on both sides of the Atlantic offer a somewhat reassuring conclusion: Anthrax did not kill the heroin users. It's unclear what did, but a new suspect has emerged.