Animal tranquiliser that causes skin rot behind increasing number of drug overdoses in US


An animal tranquiliser for which there is no antidote has been linked to thousands of drug overdoses across the United States. The muscle relaxant known as Xylazine is used for large animals like horses, cows etc and as per a report by the Mirror, it has been found in 91 per cent of Philadelphia’s heroin and fentanyl supplies.

Xylazine which is a muscle relaxant is known as tranq on the streets. It can reportedly prolong the high felt from heroin. However, according to a Vice report citing field epidemiologist Jen Shinefeld, it can also lead to an increase in soft-tissue infections, bone disease, and amputations by causing an outbreak of ulcers and sores on the user’s body, as well as substance abuse.

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Shinefeld explains that xylazine inhibits blood flow, which lengthens the healing process for wounds and raises the risk of additional medical issues like sepsis and endocarditis (inflammation of the heart’s inner lining).

As per UCLA researcher Joseph Friedman, who has extensively researched Xylazine, it can cause “tissue death.”

“This is black, necrotic tissue destruction.”

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He added that the area where the drug was injected doesn’t always see the development of necrotic tissue,  it can present itself everywhere on the body.

Vice reports that the substance was only found in 2 per cent of fatal opioid overdoses in Philadelphia between 2010 and 2015, but that number increased to 31 per cent in 2019.

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As per the Detroit Free Press, the number of drug-related deaths in Michigan rose by 86.8 per cent between 2019 and 2020 before marginally declining in 2021.

(With inputs from agencies)


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