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Monday, February 28, 2011

Botulism Cases On The Rise In California

When drug users are no longer feeling the effects of their drug of choice they often will turn to injections to achieve the high that they are looking for. The dangers that go along with intravenous drug use can be life threatening ranging from overdoses to viruses and diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV. Infections are very common amongst I.V. drug users from not using sanitary methods when using needles, abscesses from "staph" are extremely common. According to a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases examining why I.V. drugs users in California make up for 75 percent of reported wound Botulism cases in the United States. Botulism is a rare disease and for some reason reported cases of wound Botulism are on the rise in California.

17 injection drug users were spotted within the surveillance system of the California Department of Public Health between 1993 through 2006, for having recurrent wound botulism; 14 had one recurrence and three had two recurrent episodes. The symptoms ranged from acute paralysis to slurred speech to difficulty swallowing. What's interesting is that all of the patients reported heroin use, specifically black tar heroin with 88 percent reported use. "Recurrent cases suggest that exposure to botulism due to injection drug use does not result in protective immunity," according to the study's author Duc Vugia, MD, of the California Department of Public Health. "As a result, both clinicians and injection drug users should be aware of the potential for wound botulism to recur with continued injection drug use to allow for timely diagnosis and early administration of appropriate treatment."

It is often the case that addicts stepping into the realm of intravenous drug use don't understand what the inherent risks can be. We need to better educate addicts on the risks so that diseases like Botulism can be avoided.
Dr. Vugia stated, "If these near death experiences do not change behavior among these injection drug users and if severe disease from exposure to botulism does not confer immunity, recurrent wound botulism will continue to occur and add to the health care burden. Continued efforts to reduce injection drug use and educate current users on the infectious risks associated with illicit drug use are crucial to improving the health of the injection drug use population."

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