Flesh-eating bacteria tied to black tar heroin use kills 7 in San Diego, health officials say

Officials Flesh-eating bacteria tied to black tar heroin use kills 7 in San Diego

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — At least seven people have died in the San Diego area in the past two months after contracting a type of "flesh-eating" bacterial infection linked to black tar heroin use, health officials confirmed Wednesday.

An additional 13 people in Southern California have also been diagnosed with wound botulism since September that could also be tied to black tar heroin, KABC-TV reported.

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In turn, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency issued an advisory to the medical community to be vigilant regarding any soft tissue infections such as flesh-eating bacteria myonecrosis and wound botulism, especially if heroin use is suspected.

According to the agency's news release, myonecrosis is as a severe soft tissue infection that destroys muscle, while wound botulism is a rare, but serious illness that attacks the body's nerves. People who inject illicit drugs, especially black tar heroin, are at higher risk of developing both conditions.

KSWB reported nine people who injected black tar heroin were admitted to San Diego area hospitals between Oct. 2 and Nov. 24 suffering from severe cases of flesh-eating bacteria myonecrosis, while one case of wound botulism was reported in October.

Citing the National Organization for Rare Disorders, USA Today reported myonecrosis – which can lead to amputation, paralysis or death – is similar to necrotizing fasciitis, another rare soft tissue affliction that also causes the skin and tissue below it to die.