Health Care

Third death in IL linked to synthetic marijuana confirmed

Third death in IL linked to synthetic marijuana confirmed

There haven't been any reported cases of severe bleeding due to synthetic marijuana use in NY, but the state Department of Health wants hospitals and other medical facilities to be aware of the problem.

107 people in Central Illinois and the Chicago-area have suffered severe bleeding after using synthetic marijuana products.

Those who have been affected by the synthetic marijuana with brodifacoum have coughed up blood, experienced blood in the urine, and other reported symptoms include a severe bloody nose, bleeding gums and internal bleeding.

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

"IDPH is continuing to work with local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other partners, to try to identify common products", said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Department of Public Health. "They are not regulated, and people don't know what chemicals may be in them, like rat poison", he said in a statement. While efforts are underway to get the contaminated drugs out of circulation, it's possible they could re-emerge. Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called "synthetic marijuana" (or "fake weed"), and they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug.

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Synthetic cannabinoid is a man-made mixture of hundreds of chemicals that affect the same brain cell receptors as the active ingredient in marijuana. Foil packets of the drug are often sold over the counter at convenience stores, sometimes deceptively labeled as "herbal incense" or "potpourri".

Lisa Slater of the McLean County Health Department, Andrea Ingwersen of Woodford County and Sara Sparkman of Tazewell County confirmed their counties' numbers of cases.

Officials say the chemicals can be "unpredictable, harmful and deadly".

In the 1980s, synthetic cannabinoids were considered research compounds but they are now produced overseas, according to the CDC. Many synthetic cannabinoids also are illegal.

Anyone who has a reaction was told to call 911 or go to the emergency room, officials said.