Contaminated Cocaine Can Cause Flesh to Rot

By buseman · Jun 14, 2010 · ·
  1. buseman
    TUESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Cocaine abusers -- already at risk for an abnormal heartbeat, blood pressure problems, hallucinations, convulsions and stroke -- can add another potential health complication to the list: rotting flesh.

    If you are a user of cocaine, you should be aware that some of the cocaine is not clean and can have other agents that can cause you to have a low white-cell count or skin tissue death, said Dr. Ghinwa Dumyati, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Rochester and an epidemiologist for the Monroe County Health Department in New York.

    In a report in the June 1 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, Dumyati and doctors from the University of Rochester Medical Center discuss two cases involving women with a history of cocaine use who came to the hospital for help when they noticed purplish plaques on their cheeks, earlobes, legs, thighs and buttocks.

    Their profiles were typical of toxicity with levamisole, the doctors reported. The medication is a veterinary anti-worming agent, approved for use in cattle, sheep and pigs.

    It was once used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and kidney problems in humans, Dumyati said. It's no longer approved for use in people in the United States, she said, because of adverse side effects.

    But it's often used to cut cocaine, before distribution to the user, she said. Almost 80 percent of the cocaine coming into this country has levamisole mixed in, Dumyati said.

    Exactly why is not known, she said. Some say it might enhance the effects of the drug, which include a euphoric mood or ''high" and a boost in energy. It also might be used to stretch the drug and increase profits.

    The person using cocaine would not know this [levamisole] is in it, Dumyati said.

    In the new report, the doctors concluded, based on the women's symptoms, that cocaine laced with levamisole cannot only cause problems with white blood cells -- a problem previously reported -- but also death of the skin's outer layer.

    They said that physicians should suspect cocaine abuse when they see patients with skin lesions caused by tissue death.

    The drug may induce an immunological reaction producing inflammation or vasculitis, an inflammation inside the small blood vessels, Dumyati said in explaining the link to tissue death.

    The result can be the death of the epidermis or outer layer of skin.

    But that's not all that's bad about levamisole. It has other side effects, she said.

    It has effects on one marrow function. There can be a drop in the white blood cell count.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in late 2009 on a cluster of cases of problems with white blood cell counts linked to cocaine use. Called agranulocytosis, the condition occurs when bone marrow fails to make enough white blood cells.

    The report noted that levamisole was found in some of the people with agranulocytosis and cocaine exposure.

    But the reports of tissue death associated with contaminated cocaine are newer, said Dr. Kurt Nolte, a pathology professor at the University of New Mexico and one of the authors of the CDC report.

    Tissue death has been associated with levamisole in a clinical context, when the drug was used therapeutically, he said. I've not seen any cocaine users with this.

    But it's not a surprise, given the amount of cocaine that has been laced with the medication, said Dr. Juliet VanEenwyk, an epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health, who also contributed information to the CDC report.

    The increase [in cocaine containing levamisole] has been really rapid, she said. Until a few years ago, she said, probably less than 10 percent of cocaine supplies had it. Now, experts suspect that 80 percent do.

    Dumyati said that the skin problem is treatable, but if you stop using cocaine, most of the cases would get better.

    Agranulocytosis, on the other hand, is a serious illness that requires hospitalization for treatment, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    Kathleen Doheny
    June 14, 2010

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  1. Herbal Healer 019
    I wonder what crosses ones mind when they decide to take a pure product, other than more money and a cut for themselves, & cut it with something dangerous.

    This is whay SWIM would never waste his money on coke again; althought it seems really good around here, too expensive, & like 'bath salts' there are unknown and seemingly inert cutters.

    Cant they just lace it with harmless inerts (atleast more harmless) like SUGAR BABY! lmao or some vitamins like b12 lol shit man; why are coke suppliers trying to kill Americans :confused: and make us die of flesh eating zombie dermititis?!?
  2. John Doe
    I really enjoyed that read, it's the same as every other government sponsored cocaine scare story to ever surface.

    Some of the cocaine is not clean? Really? Well Gee Willikers batman someone do something!!
    They must be fed up beating the 'rat poison' drum if they've reached for something that sounds this horrific.

    How the hell can they say with a straight face this has been happening for ages yet out of all the cocaine heads out there the only major report is on 2 girls that visited the same hospital?? Madness... Are you sure you didn't find this in a tabloid :laugh:

    Their profiles? What about the toxicology test results? Do they speak oceans??
    Currently in Ireland there is a scandal where women were told their babies had died in their womb and they found out just, sometimes minutes before the op that the fetus was actually alive and kicking. Now if the docs can't tell if a fetus is alive or dead what are the odds their diagnosis of a profile is correct? Grrr it makes me so angry sometimes :mad:

    And this 'fact' was worked out how...? I'm sure to work out how much of it contained levamisole they would have to have tested 100% of the Cocaine coming into the country, I think maybe they did what most governments do for statistics and just invented the scariest number they could :)

    Might??? What other reason is there to use it? Oh yeah that line about enhancing it (bwahahahahahahaha!!!)

    Ah ok now they change the percentage from a fact into a suspicion...

    Of course he did, what else would he say. He would have been applauded by some if he actually spat out the tidbit of info that the biggest direct cause of these cuts is prohibition, but the sponsors of the report might not be part of that applause :p

    Thanks for the article Buseman it gave me a laugh, the worrying part is most people that read it, especially seeing as it's a governmental report and not just some study, will be completely taken in by it and even more harm will be done by the additional stress caused to these poor victims of the 'War on some people who take drugs'. :(

    Edit: Wish I hadn't posted this without a bit of research first but on the upside a valuable lesson was taught, thanks cooki ;)
  3. John Doe
    If we apply logic here and just for one moment and pretend the dealers might want to keep their customers alive so they stay customers instead of corpses, then do you still think this report might be fact based??
  4. Cooki
  5. Balzafire
    Almost exactly one year later, we are seeing fresh reports of this happening:

    Adulterated cocaine causing serious skin reactions

    [imgl=white][/imgl]LOS ANGELES—(June 20, 2011)—Doctors warned of a potential public health epidemic in a recent report on patients in Los Angeles and New York who developed serious skin reactions after smoking or snorting cocaine believed to be contaminated with a veterinary medication drug dealers are using to dilute, or "cut," up to 70% of the cocaine in the U.S.

    The report, published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, said six patients developed purple-colored patches of necrotic skin on their ears, nose, cheeks and other parts of their body and, in some instances, suffered permanent scarring after they had used cocaine.

    Doctors in San Francisco had previously reported two similar cases there. Others have also reported on users of contaminated cocaine who developed a related life-threatening immune-system disorder called agranulocytosis, which kills 7% to 10% of patients.

    The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that up to 70% of cocaine in the U.S. is contaminated with the drug, levamisole, which is cheap, widely available and commonly used for deworming livestock. Levamisole had been prescribed for humans in the past but was discontinued after developing side effects similar to those found in the cocaine users.

    "We believe these cases of skin reactions and illnesses linked to contaminated cocaine are just the tip of the iceberg in a looming public health problem posed by levamisole," said Noah Craft, MD, PhD, a Los Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) principal researcher and author of the report in the Journal. "We published this report to educate the public to the additional risks associated with cocaine use and to increase awareness among physicians who may see patients with these skin reactions that are a clue to the underlying cause of the disease. Because this reaction can commonly be mistaken as an autoimmune disease called vasculitis, it is important for physicians to know about this new disease entity."

    Dr. Craft said he and other physicians were initially baffled by the severity of the skin damage. He is a member of a team of doctors who advise Logical Images, a company that developed a software program, called VisualDx, for diagnosing skin diseases and other conditions.

    During one of their conference calls in May 2010, Dr. Craft said they began discussing the skin damage seen in emergency rooms in New York and Los Angeles and realized they were all seeing similar patterns and that the one common thread was the use of cocaine prior to the development of the skin damage. The cases were pooled and added into the professional database immediately so that other physicians across the US were then able to see this new diagnosis.

    "We have had several more cases since we wrote this report," he said. "In one of the more interesting ones, the patient used cocaine again and developed the same skin reaction again. He then switched drug dealers and the problem cleared up."

    Laura Mecoy
    Public release date: 20-Jun-2011
  6. kailey_elise
    Yeah, and hopefully those (that?) higher-up dealer who's cutting the cocaine with levamisole will notice all these reports too AND STOP USING IT, lest they start losing clients - be it because they're getting a flesh-eating disease or are DYING, or people are afraid of either. Ah, a girl can dream...
    How is that "interesting"? Doesn't it, you know, make total sense? ;)

  7. Terrapinzflyer
  8. BlueMystic
    Cocaine Laced With Veterinary Drug Levamisole Eats Away at Flesh

    Cocaine cut with the veterinary drug levamisole could be the culprit in a flurry of flesh-eating disease in New York and Los Angeles.

    The drug, used to deworm cattle, pigs and sheep, can rot the skin off noses, ears and cheeks. And over 80 percent of the country's coke supply contains it.

    "It's probably quite a big problem, and we just don't know yet how big a problem it really is," said Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist with Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.

    In a case study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Craft describes six cocaine users recently plagued by the dark purple patches of dying flesh. And while they happened to hail from the country's coastlines, the problem is national.

    "It's important for people to know it's not just in New York and L.A. It's in the cocaine supply of the entire U.S.," Craft said.

    Craft is one of several doctors across the country who have linked the rotting skin to tainted coke. The gruesome wounds surface days after a hit because of an immune reaction that attacks the blood vessels supplying the skin. Without blood, the skin starves and suffocates.

    Eighty-two percent of seized cocaine contains levamisole, according to an April 2011 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Why dealers would stretch their stash with levamisole instead of the more traditional fillers, like baking soda, is unclear, although studies in rats suggest the drug acts on the same brain receptors as cocaine. So it might be added to enhance or extend the cocaine's euphoric effects on the cheap.

    Despite the widespread contamination, not all of the country's cocaine users experience the flesh-rotting reaction. It appears that some are more vulnerable to the tainted cocaine's effects.

    "We don't know who this is going to happen to," said Dr. Lindy Fox, the University of California, San Francisco, dermatologist who first connected the gruesome lesions on cocaine users to levamisole. Similarly, some patients have more extreme reactions than others. Fox said she once saw a photo of a man whose entire body, face included, was black with dying flesh.

    Once the drug is cleared from the body, the wounds do heal, leaving behind a shiny scar.

    Although some people might be more vulnerable to the effects of levamisole, the drug doesn't discriminate based on race or socioeconomic status.

    "Rich or poor, black or white," anyone who uses cocaine is at risk, Craft said.

    As if rotting skin wasn't enough, levamisole also prevents the bone marrow from producing infection-fighting white blood cells.

    "It's a little bit like having HIV," said Craft, adding that without medical attention, the condition can be fatal. "About 10 percent of those patients will die from severe infections. They may be walking around like a time bomb."

    June 23, 2011
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