Seven black tar heroin users die from flesh-eating bacteria in San Diego, officials say

Seven black tar heroin users die from flesh-eating bacteria in San Diego, officials say
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Health officials in San Diego tied the deaths of seven people from a flesh-eating bacterial infection to black tar heroin use.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency warned the medical community to be wary of possible additional cases of flesh-eating bacteria myonecrosis and other severe soft tissue infections such as wound botulism.


Nine people who used black tar heroin were admitted to hospitals in San Diego County with severe myonecrosis, an infection that destroys muscle, between Oct. 2 and Nov. 25, seven of whom died, officials said.

“People who use black tar heroin are not only at higher risk of dying from an overdose, but also more prone to developing myonecrosis and wound botulism,” county public health officer Wilma Wooten said in a statement.

The county also confirmed a single case of wound botulism, which attacks the body’s nerves, in October, the first case confirmed in the county this year after seven reported cases last year.

Thirteen probable and confirmed wound botulism cases, the majority involving black tar users, have been reported in Southern California since the beginning of September, according to the announcement.

The source of this particular black tar heroin is unknown, but the substance is often produced in Mexico and sold in the lucrative American market, USA Today noted.

It is manufactured through a more primitive process that makes the drug susceptible to impurities, which, in combination with the fact that it is typically injected, put users at particular risk of infection, the newspaper added.