Woman loses arm, shoulder after injecting bath salts

A woman lost her arm, shoulder and collarbone due to flesh-eating bacteria that was caused by a self-injection of ‘bath salts,’ WWLTV reported.


The woman, who is 34, visited the emergency room and complained of arm pain, according to Dr. Russell Russo of Louisiana State University Sciences Center.

“As bath salts gain popularity, medical centers of all disciplines must be prepared to identify not only the signs of intoxication, but the potential side effects, including deadly necrotizing fasciitis,” Russo said.

Bath salts are being sold all over the U.S. with names like “Ivory Wave,” “White Lightning” and “Hurricane Charlie.” They are not the type of salts you would add to your bath, however; these so-called bath salts are intended to be snorted, smoked or injected – and users are getting high off of them.

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The Drug Enforcement Administration does not regulate these substances, but they are under federal scrutiny, as the effects of these salts are comparable to methamphetamine abuse, according to poison control centers and other law enforcement agencies.

Doctors did not realize  what was causing the woman’s pain until the skin had become increasingly red, started to slough and drainage occurred. They tried to operate, but the infection was fast-moving: Tissue literally died in front of their eyes.

“Despite the drug’s legal status, it must be treated as illicit, and one must be suspicious when examining a patient with this clinical history because the diagnosis of flesh-eating bacteria can masquerade as abscesses and cellulitis,” Russo said.

The powders often contain mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV, and can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal thoughts, according to authorities.

State lawmakers have been proposing to ban the sale of the powders. In Louisiana, the bath salts were outlawed by an emergency order after the state's poison center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010 involving exposure to the chemicals.

A small packet of the chemicals typically costs as little as $20.

Click here to read more on this story from WWLTV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.