Health officials in Glasgow have issued an alert after two cases of a rare flesh-eating bug were diagnosed among drug users. They said the cases of necrotising fasciitis had come to light in the last week during routine checks of drug addicts. Injecting drug users are more vulnerable to the potentially fatal illness, sometimes known as 'flesh-eating disease', because it commonly enters the body through broken skin. More than 35 heroin users in the UK and Ireland died in the last year after they were infected by clostridium, with the largest number of cases concentrated in Glasgow.
The disease commonly begins in an established wound or broken skin before penetrating the tissues beneath the skin, causing blisters to form. Flu-like symptoms and diarrhoea can also occur, with patients developing toxic shock syndrome as the disease spreads to the underlying tissues. If caught early, it can be treated with antibiotics, but more serious surgery can involve the removal of skin and even limbs to halt the spread of the bacteria.