7 die of flesh-eating bacteria linked to injecting black tar heroin

7 die of flesh-eating bacteria linked to injecting black tar heroin

7 die of flesh-eating bacteria linked to injecting black tar heroin

Seven people in San Diego have died in just the last two months after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria that is associated with black tar heroin use, the County of San Diego Communications Office announced Wednesday.

Nine people who injected black tar heroin between October 2 and November 24 were hospitalized with severe myonecrosis, a soft-tissue infection that destroys muscle, county health officials said Wednesday.

Health officials have advised the medical community to be on the lookout for additional cases of severe soft tissue infections linked to heroin use. The patients ranged in age from 19 to 57 years old.

One case of wound botulism, which is also associated with black tar heroin injection, was reported in San Diego County in October.

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In the statement, officials warned that illicit drug users - especially those who use black tar heroin - are at heightened risk of developing wound botulism, "a rare, but serious illness that attacks the body's nerves".

Symptoms of myonecrosis often include severe pain in the area around a wound or injection site, swelling in the area around a wound, pale skin that quickly turns gray, dark red, purple or black, blisters with foul-smelling discharge, fever, air under the skin, excessive sweating and increased heart rate.

Left untreated, symptoms may lead to paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs and torso and can cause death.

The source of the black tar heroin used by some people in San Diego is now unknown, officials said, noting an investigation into the matter is ongoing. Impure heroin is usually dissolved, diluted, and injected into veins, muscles or under the skin.

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