Powder Panic

Deadly Cocaine Turning Up in Seattle

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A substance used to deworm livestock has made its way into the local cocaine supply, sickening 10 people in the last five months. According to King County health officials, 10 men and women—all primarily in their 40s and 50s—have been admitted to local hospitals a total of 13 times after they used cocaine possibly tainted with the drug levamisole.

King County Public Health disease-control officer Dr. Bob Wood says health officials don't yet know why the cocaine supply has increasingly become tainted with levamisole. Wood says it's possible the drug is being used to bulk up cocaine during production, and he says there has also been some speculation that the deworming agent "might add to the euphoria people get when they take cocaine." The problem is that levamisole also drops users' white-blood-cell count to zero—essentially causing drug-induced AIDS—making them susceptible to serious bacterial infections. So far, three deaths (in Spokane, New Mexico, and Alberta, Canada) have been linked to levamisole-tainted cocaine.

Levamisole only stays in the system for five and a half hours, Dr. Wood says, but that's long enough for the drug to shut down white-blood-cell production and expose users to infection. Antibiotics are used to treat the infections, and doctors have used a drug called Neupogen to jump-start bone marrow into resuming production of white blood cells.

As of late last year, "nearly a third of all cocaine seized in the U.S. is tainted with the drug," the Associated Press reported on August 31, based on a review of Drug Enforcement Administration documents. King County received two reports of sickness in June, six in July, and two in August—the latest case on August 20. Nine of the 10 cases countywide were reported in Seattle, one was found in Shoreline. According to Wood, people who snort, inject, smoke, or "keister" cocaine are susceptible to exposure to levamisole—which is colorless, odorless, and can't be detected except through laboratory testing.

On top of the lack of information about why bad cocaine is entering the market, health officials also aren't sure where it's coming from. As Wood says, the health department is limited in its investigatory powers. "When you get involved in asking questions about who [their] supplier was, that's something that the health department stays away from," Wood says. recommended


Comments (7) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Oh jeez, why can't they just legalise, regulate and tax the heck out of these things like they do booze? Pandora's outta the damn box. People are gonna make this stuff and people are gonna take it, whatever you do ...
Posted by Stowe on September 4, 2009 at 10:49 AM · Report this
slade 2
Its so hard to find out where Cocaine comes from?
Well we will just have to collect cocaine samples from all over the earth so we can get a DNA, soil nutrition,Electron microscope image and all that other CSI "Coke Seen Investigator" Stuff going!

Cocaine is classified as a psychomotor stimulant. It is found in Erythroxylon coca, which is a shrub native to South America, particularly Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia. Inhabitants of these regions have been using coca (and its various forms) for at least 2,000 years.
Posted by slade on September 14, 2009 at 8:34 PM · Report this
That_Indie_Kid 3

Why should we have to worry about Levamisole in cocaine? I mean really, if an individual does cocaine they are automatically going to be risking their life anyways. Personally, I believe that all man made drugs (that includes cocaine, even though it technically comes from a plant, people still add chemicals and all that jazz to the drug making the actual powdered substances “man-made”.) shouldn’t be used at all. If someone wants to get high or messed up or whatever then they should do something that can’t kill you the first time you try it like marijuana or shrooms or something natural and from mother earth. The “natural” kind of drugs are safer than cocaine and heroine and pills because you don’t have all those nasty killer unnatural chemicals added into the drug.
If people want to be stupid enough to snort a line of coke then they should pay the consequences, which may end up being worse the though because of the Levamisole added into the drug. The dangers of drugs are everywhere, therefore everyone should know of them. So what if someone is stupid enough to ignore the faces and do drugs anyways. Let them destroy themselves.
Posted by That_Indie_Kid on September 30, 2009 at 9:56 AM · Report this
That_Indie_Kid 4
Sorry about my typos.
It's supposed to say:

" which may end up being worse then though because of the Levamisole added into the drug."
instead of the

and " So what if someone is stupid enough to ignore the facts and do drugs anyways."
instead of faces.

I type sloppy.
Posted by That_Indie_Kid on October 3, 2009 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Master_Kush 5
That Indie Kid made a great point. Shes sexy.
Posted by Master_Kush on October 3, 2009 at 1:28 PM · Report this
Because there totally aren't natural plants that will kill your fool ass. Loco weed, belladonna, those can kill ya; oh yeah--peach and cherry pits, and that's not even to mention almonds (see what I did there?) contain cyanide. And there's very little "natural" about most marijuana these days. Aside from the fact that YES, additives CAN go into your dime bag, modern marijuana is astronomically more potent than the stuff sold back in the 70s. Dose is everything. A 5% solution of a drug may make you go into happy la la land, but a 20% solution of it might make you into the girl who thinks it's a rad idea to beat the hell out of someone. Nearly all of the marijuana sold these days is the result of intensive breeding to increase its effects. It's about as natural as Monsanto tomatoes.
Posted by Cad in Decadent on October 8, 2009 at 8:46 PM · Report this
So when was the last time someone on marijuana beat the hell out of someone? Go on, show us that you're not just making stupid comments with no basis. Show a scientific study that correlates THC to violent behavior.
Posted by youdontknowwhatyouretalkingabout on May 6, 2010 at 2:02 PM · Report this

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