Two deaths and 54 other cases of severe bleeding in cases across Chicago and in central Illinois have been tied to synthetic cannabinoids — often called Spice, K2 or fake weed.
All of the cases required hospitalization related to users coughing up blood, blood in the urine, bloody nose, bleeding gums and other symptoms. Nine of the cases tested positive for brodifacoum, or rat poison, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday.
Now, state officials are working to identify any commonalities between the cases and determine where the products were obtained.
Synthetic cannabinoids are sold in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores and online.
“This is the first time we’ve seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area,” Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Monday. “We’re working with numerous different partners across the city and state as we investigate this outbreak.”
‘There could be additional deaths coming’
The department “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,” he said. “Without more information, IDPH does not know how much contaminated product is circulating