I know it's in the best interest of public health, but I can't help but admit I was taken aback to be reading headlines, such as:
Cocaine cut with antibiotic could cause life-threatening infection: health unit
Peterborough health warns about contaminated cocaine causing deadly infections
It is a serious issue though, my surprise notwithstanding. According to public health officials, some cocaine dealers have been cutting their cocaine with a veterinary antibiotic powder to make it go farther. The antibiotic, levamisole, is used to treat infections from worms in animals, but is also said to make the effects of cocaine more intense for the user.
This isn't limited to Canada though. In August, it was widely reported that celebrity disc jockey Adam Goldstein (DJ AM) had been found dead from an overdose of drugs, including cocaine. It turns out that the cocaine he had taken had been cut with levamisole.
Officials say that in Canada, about 10% of seized cocaine contains levamisole, in the U.S. - 30%.
Symptoms to watch for if you've used cocaine and may be affected by the antibiotic are:
- high fever
- swollen glands
- painful oral or anal sores
- skin abscesses
- rapidly occurring lung infection