The Winnebago County Health Department is warning people to avoid all synthetic cannabinoids. It has identified four cases of severe bleeding connected to their use in the county. Many more have been reported across the state.
The Health Department said there are many different chemicals, including one used in rat poison, in the various synthetics available. The department’s Director of Health Protection, Todd Kisner, said the effects can be unpredictable and dangerous, and people shouldn’t wait to act.
“If you are experiencing some type of excessive bleeding and stuff,” he said, "[you] should go immediately to the ER if [you] can. If not, call 911.”
Kisner said the Illinois health community hasn’t yet discovered which cannabinoid is responsible for the outbreak.
“So, right now,” he said, “none of it is safe, in the sense of what we’re experiencing now. So if you have it – stop [using it].”
Treatment can include taking large doses - up to thirty pills a day - of Vitamin K for six months.
The department says it is working with its healthcare partners in the community to identify and contact people affected by cannabinoid use. Kisner said it’s important that healthcare providers, paramedics and emergency room personnel know whether a person has been using the substances so they can provide appropriate treatment.
The Illinois Department of Public Health began listing cases statewide on its website in early March. As of April 25, 155 people in 13 Illinois counties had been reported with severe bleeding associated with synthetic cannabinoids. That includes four deaths.