Life-threatening bleeding linked to synthetic marijuana; 3 patients dead

Megan Knowles - Print  | 

As of April 9, the Illinois Department of Public Health has received reports of 107 cases, including three deaths, linked to synthetic marijuana laced with a pesticide that causes severe bleeding.

Although the majority of the cases were in Illinois, including the three deaths, several cases were found in Indiana, Maryland, Missouri and Wisconsin, according to a CDC alert to clinicians released April 5.

The patients are believed to have been exposed to brodifacoum, a pesticide widely used as rat poison that causes severe bleeding.

The bleeding symptoms may not appear until days after the drugs are ingested, physicians said, according to The New York Times. Patients can be treated with vitamin K, which works to counteract the blood thinner's effects.

The CDC is sending a team to Illinois to help with the investigation, said Renee Funk, MD, associate director for emergency management for the CDC, according to The Times.

Michigan health officials issued a warning to the public to be aware of the cases. The Wisconsin Division of Public Health reported its first case in the state April 5 and warned emergency room physicians to watch for more, The Times noted.

The CDC is suggesting healthcare providers screen patients who enter ERs with unexplained bleeding and potential history of using this synthetic marijuana. The CDC also recommends providers report suspected cases associated with synthetic marijuana to their local health department.

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