The UVM Medical Center found a 900% increase in blood infections due to the cut with animal tranquilizers

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Monica Raymond, an infection preventionist at the University of Vermont Medical Center, said some of the wounds she sees are unlike anything she has seen before.
Two years ago, physicians at the UVM Medical Center began receiving more and more patients with searing, necrotic flesh wounds.
Blood cultures turned up the same diagnosis: group A strep infections, referred to by the acronym ‘GAS’.
The wounds looked like the effects of xylazine, an animal sedative known on the streets as ‘tranq’, that dealers were already mixing with opioids.
Half of the injection drug users diagnosed with GAS infections in the UVMMC study either declined hospital admission or left against medical advice before completing antibiotic therapy.
“We don’t hear about many of the other bad outcomes of drug addiction such as these bloodstream infections,” she said.
If left untreated, a GAS infection can become life-threatening, the health providers said.
During the length of the study, two of the patients entered sepsis and died from multi-organ failure.

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The University of Vermont Medical Center’s Monica Raymond, an infection preventionist, stated that some of the wounds she observes are unheard of.

Raymond stated, “Some of these are very extensive, even down to the bone.”.

Patients with scorching, necrotic flesh wounds started to come to the UVM Medical Center’s doctors more frequently two years ago. The same diagnosis—group A strep infections, or “GAS” infections—was made based on blood cultures.

The injuries appeared to be the result of dealers combining xylazine, an animal sedative known as “tranq” on the streets, with opioids. The medication results in necrotic wounds, which act as bacterial entry points. In October 2021, a report was released by the Vermont Department of Health regarding the growing prevalence of xylazine in opioid overdose deaths within the state.

The timeline lined up when Raymond looked at the UVMMC patients: seven GAS infections were found in 2020 and 2021, and 64 between 2022 and October 2023, which is a 900 percent increase in two years.

Seventy percent of those who reported injecting drugs did so during the 2022–2023 period; these individuals were primarily homeless. Furthermore, in almost half of those instances, the patient self-reported the xylazine exposure or a clinician had suspicions about it.

At a virtual news conference on Tuesday, Raymond and Dr. Lindsay Smith—a UVMMC infectious disease specialist who treated numerous patients—presented her findings to a select group of journalists.

Smith noted, “We’re seeing ongoing numbers of people admitted with streptococcus,” adding that although data for this year was not yet available, the rate of patients admitted with GAS infection seemed to be comparable to that of 2023.

Raymond stated that additional measures could be taken to safeguard drug users, even though the most effective solutions would target the underlying causes of homelessness and substance abuse.

“Houseless people require locations where they can maintain basic hygiene. She mentioned xylazine test strips as an additional crucial tool and stated, “They need access to wound care.”.

Smith agreed and added that individuals who use drugs must be trusted and at ease in the company of those who treat them. In the UVMMC study, half of the injection drug users who were diagnosed with GAS infections either refused to be admitted to the hospital or left before receiving antibiotic therapy on medical advice.

Raymond concluded by saying that the study demonstrated how dangerous drug addiction is in situations other than overdoses.

“Many of the other negative effects of drug addiction, like these bloodstream infections, are not widely discussed,” the speaker stated.

A GAS infection can become potentially fatal if treatment is not received, according to medical professionals. Two of the patients developed sepsis and passed away from multiple organ failure during the course of the study.

According to Smith, “[They] were way farther down the illness spectrum.”. “They started receiving medical care too late.”. “.

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