Fake marijuana likely contaminated with rat poison has now killed three people in Illinois and caused severe bleeding in more than 100 others, including a few in four other states. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has alerted doctors nationwide that patients with severe, unexplained bleeding may be additional cases. The CDC is helping Illinois authorities investigate the outbreak in that state, which began in early March. Illinois reported seven more cases on Tuesday, bringing the nationwide total to at least 116, the AP reports. Several patients and samples of so-called synthetic marijuana from Illinois have tested positive for a lethal ingredient often used in rat poison, the CDC and Illinois authorities said.
"The number of cases continues to go up each day," says Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health. Symptoms include coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody noses, bleeding gums, and internal bleeding. CDC's alert says outside Illinois, emergency rooms in Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Maryland have treated affected patients since March 10. Illnesses have been linked to fake marijuana before but this is the first outbreak involving rat poison contamination, says the CDC's Renee Funk. Those sickened require hospitalization and treatment with vitamin K to control bleeding, she says. "This is an unusual outbreak," Funk says, adding that it's unclear how the contamination occurred.
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