Seven people have died over the last two months in San Diego from the bacterial infection myonecrosis, a flesh-eating bacteria that causes severe soft tissue infection that destroys muscle. The bacteria is linked to black-tar heroin use, resulting in wound botulism that also attacks the body's nerves.
The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency confirmed the deaths and has expressed concern over the sharp increase in occurrence of the infection and are cautioning the medical community to be on the lookout for more cases.13 cases have been reported since September 1, 2019, compared to a total of seven cases in all of 2018 and three in all of 2017.
Myonecrosis symptoms: severe pain and swelling around a wound or injection site; pale skin that quickly turns gray, dark red, purple or black; blisters with a foul-smelling discharge; air under the skin; and fever.
Wound botulism symptoms: drooping eyelids, blurred vision, slurred speech, trouble swallowing and difficulty breathing. The condition can cause paralysis that begins at the face and head and travels down the body.
County Health officials also warn that “cooking” black-tar heroin does not kill the bacteria that causes wound botulism.
Anyone dealing with drug addiction, or another substance use disorder can get help by calling the County’s Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240.