Since October 2014, an NHS Lothian-led multi-agency incident management team has been investigating an outbreak of soft tissue infections in 125 people who inject drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’ such as ‘Burst’ ‘Blue’ or ‘Blue Stuff’). Many of these infections have been severe, with patients requiring prolonged hospital admission and extensive surgical intervention. The majority of S.pyogenes infections have been identified as being due to S. pyogenes M76, an uncommon emm type. Patients are also presenting with S. aureus soft tissue infections, bloodstream infections, endocarditis and organ abscesses as well as mixed infections with both S. pyogenes and S. aureus.
During this outbreak, updates and advice have been circulated to healthcare and drugs agency colleagues on the appropriate investigation and management of infections in people who inject drugs. NHS Lothian is working closely with the police, councils and other agencies to pursue the best options for preventing, controlling and treating the use of new psychoactive substances, including any potential legal avenues.
Further information can be obtained from NHS Lothian Health Protection Team on 0131 465 5420.