CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The 22News I-Team takes a closer look into the growing presence of the horse tranquilizer, xylazine, and its gruesome side effects including rotting skin.
Xylazine is its pharmaceutical name, tranq is its street name. It’s been called the ‘zombie drug’, it doesn’t respond to naloxone and causes wounds so severe, it can lead to amputation.
Xylazine, the skin-rotting zombie drug is becoming an increasing problem in the US. It is mixed with street drugs, like heroin and fentanyl, and has devastating side effects. The DEA issued an alert about the increasing presence of xylazine in drugs in March stating:
“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier. (The) DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 states.”
Here in the northeast, xylazine-related deaths are up 103 percent. This has led federal lawmakers to take notice. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York recently announced a plan to crack down on the use of this zombie drug.
“This is turning the opioid crisis into a nightmare. Xylazine… it’s a deadly skin-rotting zombie drug that’s bringing a horrific wave of overdoses across the country and it’s spreading further.”
A photo was sent to 22News I-Team from a person who said they had unknowingly used a drug containing tranq. This person was so disturbed by the wounds that developed, they wanted to share the photo to get the word out.
The 22News I-Team showed the photo to Dr. Bill Soares who said it was consistent with some of the wounds they are seeing with tranq use. Why the wounds form, is still a mystery. “Honestly, we are not sure as a medical community why, and part of that is xylazine is not a drug that is used in people.”
Dr. Soares said these wounds often appear on extremities and keeping them free of infection is critical. “That infection really may start to progress. It may get into deeper structures, including into the bone which then becomes very hard to cure. In some cases might lead to things like amputation in order to cure the infection.”
Dr. Soares said that a company in Canada is working on developing test strips to detect xylazine. Hopefully, they will be widely available in the U.S. soon.