Cocaine tainted with dog dewormer kills woman

By Phungushead · Jun 6, 2009 · ·
  1. Phungushead
    Cocaine tainted with dog dewormer kills woman

    SPOKANE, Wash. -- One local death and another three serious illnesses may be linked to a nationwide cocaine contamination problem.

    Patients with this condition elsewhere in the country, including Seattle, had life threatening infections requiring hospitalization and intensive care unit admittance, due to their use of cocaine contaminated with a drug used to treat animals.

    Called levamisole, the contaminant critically reduces a person’s white blood cells, causing a condition known as agranulocytosis, where the affected person loses ability to fight infection.

    The Spokane Regional Health District is taking steps now to warn users of this potentially fatal mixture, while investigation of illnesses possibly caused by cocaine contaminated with levamisole is on-going. The Health District is working with a research doctor to identify local cases.

    “We want anyone who uses cocaine to know about this added danger,” said Dr. Joel McCullough, Health Officer for the Spokane Regional Health District. “Because people cannot tell if their cocaine or crack is contaminated just by looking at it, they need to know that they now face an even bigger risk when they use dangerous drugs like cocaine.”

    Levamisole is likely added to the cocaine product at the point of production outside of the United States. It can seriously reduce a persons white blood cells, suppressing immune function and the body’s ability to fight off even minor infections. People who snort, smoke, or inject crack or powder cocaine contaminated by levamisole can develop overwhelming, rapidly developing, and life threatening infections.

    Symptoms in persons using cocaine contaminated with levamisole include: High fever or chills, swollen glands, infections or sores in the mouth, skin or anus, white coating of the mouth, tongue or throat (thrush), and Pneumonia, which includes cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

    Persons using cocaine and experiencing any of these symptoms should seek medical attention at an emergency room or other medical provider immediately. Cocaine causes overdose and death every year in Spokane.


    SEATTLE - Contaminated cocaine is making its way into the Seattle area, said public health officials, and it's already sent three patients to hospitals with life-threatening illnesses this past month.

    Each case is likely linked to cocaine contaminated by levamisole, an anti-worming medication for pets, which in humans depletes white blood cells, effectively compromising the body's immune system.

    "Typically people then develop overwhelming infections and get admitted into intensive care units," said Dr. Bob Wood with Seattle-King County Public Health.

    While the three patients have recovered, Wood says others around the world have died. Either way, the price of hospital treatment and care is high. One of the Seattle cases cost more than $100,000.

    "Some of those folks may have insurance," said Dr. Wood. "And then the insurance will pick it up, but then the insurance company will spread it around the health care system and we'll all be paying for it."


    Tainted cocaine sends Seattleites to hospitals.

    No one seems to know how or why the chemical is getting into cocaine shipments, though drug experts speculate the white powder is being used to dilute supplies. A 2008 DEA report says up to 30 percent of seized cocaine now contains traces of levamisole.

    Meanwhile, Seattle King County Public Health is warning area hospitals and other agencies to be on the lookout for more cases.

    And they're warning cocaine users with serious infection-like symptoms to seek medical attention rather than hide their drug use.

    10:16 PM PDT on Friday, June 5, 2009

    Share This Article


  1. old hippie 56
    Heard about a couple of cases in this part of the country.
  2. davestate
    It really doesn't make any sense for a dealer to cut any substance with something that is lethal and expensive...why alienate and force away your clientèle? As soon as anyone got wind of this they would hardly rush to use your stuff again.

    SWIM doesn't buy drugs from dealers, but if he heard of shit like this...there'd be hell to pay...
  3. old hippie 56
    From what cowboy can gather, it is being cut at the point of origin.
  4. kailey_elise
    TIK have mentioned they heard a warning about this at the local outreach center (the center here isn't a needle exchange, because the city won't let them actually exchange needles, but they provide everything else). However, that warning email the center got didn't mention that the identified contaminate was fucking a dog deworming agent!

    WTF is the matter with these people? I thought they didn't want to cut much at the point of origin because it means more weight to move...and _WHY_ would they use something that could KILL your client base? Whatever happened to good ol' inositol or lidocaine or something? *sheesh*

    I'm sure glad I don't do cocaine in any of it's forms, and that TIK do it rarely.

    Wow. Lame doesn't even begin to describe this...

    ~Kailey Elise
  5. Venusia
    Wow, that is just horrible. What a nasty thing to cut with! I really feel bad for the lady in the first story.
    That is such a scary thing. One never knows what goes into the street drugs they may be using. How awful for her.
  6. old hippie 56
    Been printing that article and handing it out to everyone that cowboy knows that is in that scene.
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!