The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has reported two cases of Clostridium perfringens infection in Oslo. The patients reported injected heroin via syringes.

Image/B_A via pixabay
Image/B_A via pixabay

Both of the sick have had serious infections at the site and were admitted to hospital in late September and early October 2018. They have predominantly injected heroin. It is suspected that heroin contaminated with this bacterium is the source of transmission of infection. There has been previously evidence of infection with other similar spore-derived bacteria among people who take drugs with syringes in Norway.

“It is important to have more attention to such symptoms (abscesses, soft tissue infections around the injection site and blood poisoning) in people who take drugs with syringes,” says senior physician Hans Blystad at the National Institute of Public Health.

“People who take drugs with syringes and healthcare professionals who are in contact with this group must be aware of the possibility that drugs circulating in Oslo can be contaminated with spores from the Clostridium perfringens bacterium,” says Blystad.

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People who inject drugs intramuscularly or subcutaneously (the so-called “skin poppers”) are particularly prone to this type of infection. Extensive use of citric acid to dissolve narcotic drugs can contribute to skin and muscle damage that provides good growth conditions for clostridial bacteria.

Clostridium perfringens is a spore-forming bacterium, where bacterial spores occur in soil and in the intestinal tract of animals. Bacteria usually causes food poisoning in humans, but can also cause wound infections.