IL severe bleeding outbreak linked to synthetic cannabinoids update

The Illinois Department of Public Health has issued new health warnings with cases of users experiencing bleeding from virtually every body opening due to a Vitamin K dependent coagulopathy

The long-acting anti-coagulant brodifacoum (rodenticide) was confirmed in at least 18 patients.

"It's a concoction of lots and lots of different chemicals", said Dr. Adam Black, a physician at Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center in Chicago, which has treated several synthetic marijuana users with severe bleeding this week.

In a follow-up on the outbreak of severe bleeding linked to synthetic cannabinoid use in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is now reporting 95 cases through today.

Symptoms of coagulation from the use of synthetic marijuana include bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding of the gums, bleeding out of proportion to the level of injury, vomiting blood, blood in the urine or stool, excessively heavy menstrual bleeding and back pain. The anticoagulant brodifacoum was detected during the investigation into his death. The medical examiner's office is also investigating a second case that presented with similar hemorrhaging, or bleeding. This poisoning is unique in that its effects can last weeks to months. "Even without symptoms, the blood's ability to clot is severely impaired and risk of bleeding is high".


"As bleeding can be life-threatening, it is important that people who have used synthetic marijuana seek medical attention at the first sign of poisoning so we can begin treatment right away", Lu said. They are also sold on the street, she said, and those experiencing the bleeding said they obtained the products in convenience stores and from dealers and friends.

But officials here said they still have unanswered, vexing questions: How much of the tainted drug is still circulating throughout the Midwest, and how many more people will be sickened? The substance is often referred to as Spice, K2 or fake weed.

"People don't realize how unsafe this is", she said. It is a human-made, mind-altering chemical that is either sprayed on dried shredded plant material to be smoked or sold as a liquid to be vaporized and inhaled.

Manufacturers of synthetic marijuana alter its formula slightly to evade drug laws, and market the product as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana.

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