Confirmed cases of botulism in people who inject drugs (PWID)

09 April 2019

Article: 53/1402

Four cases of wound botulism have recently been notified to Health Protection Scotland (HPS). The first case, in NHS Fife, presented in early February 2019 and has been confirmed microbiologically. Two further cases presented in mid-late March in NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) respectively, and have also been confirmed microbiologically.

In the past few days, a further probable case from NHS Lanarkshire presented. In total, there have been 3 confirmed and 1 probable case of wound botulism investigated since February 2019. All cases presented with clinical features consistent with wound botulism, and all involve people who inject drugs (PWID). There have been no deaths among the identified cases.

Samples were obtained and sent to the reference lab for microbiological confirmation. The source of the infection is believed to be heroin contaminated with Clostridium botulinum spores. The last confirmed case of wound botulism among PWID in Scotland was in 2017.

Information and guidance about botulism and information on the public health management of botulism are available on the HPS website.