Is Animal De-Worming Drug Levamisole Causing Flesh-Eating Cocaine?
A veterinary deworming drug used to cut more than 80% of the cocaine entering the United States could be responsible for an outbreak of a gruesome flesh-eating ailment plaguing some cocaine users. According to ABC News, levamisole, used to deworm cattle, pigs and sheep, is found in 82% of the nation’s cocaine. The drug is believed by some doctors to be responsible for a number of flesh-eating diseases in New York and Los Angeles.
“It’s probably quite a big problem, and we just don’t know yet how big a problem it really is,” Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, told ABC News.
The ailment is particularly nasty, with dark purple patches of dying flesh appearing on the bodies of those affected. Noses, ears and cheeks are especially susceptible to rotting, but at least one patient’s entire body was covered in dying flesh.
The rotting is caused by an immune reaction that attacks blood vessels that nourish the skin, causing it to literally die days after the user snorts cocaine.
“We don’t know who this is going to happen to,” Dr. Lindy Fox, a San Francisco dermatologist who first connected the rotting flesh condition to levamisole, told ABC News. And because levamisole also stops bone marrow from producing white blood cells, which are crucial to fighting infections, cocaine users also run the risk of death. “It’s a little bit like having HIV,” Dr. Craft told ABC News. “About 10% of those patients will die from severe infections.”
Craft cautions that it’s not just New York and L.A. that are affected by this. “It’s the cocaine supply of the entire U.S.,” he said.