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Manchester flesh damage cause could be infection, not 'zombie heroin'

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 09. 2015 10:35PM

MANCHESTER — State and federal officials Thursday said the sores and “rotting flesh” reported on a drug overdose victim here, prompting concerns the victim used a drug called Krokodil — or zombie heroin — may have resulted from infection and gangrene caused by a combination of dirty needles and poor health.

Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Tim Desmond said: “We heard about it (but) we still have not officially seen it.”

Desmond said the drug isn’t heroin, but is used as a cheaper substitute for it, and is injected intravenously. There was a flurry of information about its use in the the fall of 2013, primarily in Eastern Europe.

Desmond said the DEA’s last confirmed use in the U.S., as confirmed by lab test, was in Chicago in 2004.

In October 2013, the DEA put out a fact sheet on Desomorphine, whose street name is Krokodil or Crocodil, pronounced like the animal because of what the skin may look like after longterm use.

(What is Desomorphine?)

It is made from codeine and diluted with substances like iodine, hydrochloric acid, red phosphorus from the head of matches and even paint thinner.

Desmond echoed the comments of other health officials who said serious infections could cause serious flesh damage.

Manchester Health Officer Tim Soucy said he’s only ever heard of one case, but is aware “there’s been a fear of Krokodil.”

Soucy said intravenous drug users, using the same injection site frequently, run the risk of staph or strep infections and gangrene. If the user develops cellulitis, he said: “They can start to lose flesh.”

Jake Leon, director of communications for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, said testing would be necessary to determine the cause of the lesions and/or rotting flesh.

He also said heavy drug users tend to not be in the best of health. An infection that a healthy person’s immune system could fend off, he said, could overwhelm the immune system of a drug addict.

But Leon also speculated that substitutes for heroin, or heroin diluted with dangerous materials, could start showing up here if Manchester Police keep seizing large quantities of heroin, like the 22 kilograms, valued at $2.2 million, seized late last month.

Public Safety Health Manchester

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