Krokodil -- the deadly flesh-eating drug that is believed to have arrived in the United States -- may have just hit Canada. According to the Huffington Post, there have been three cases of krokodil use reported north of the border in the past few weeks.
Two men have been hospitalized in the St. Catharines area of Ontario over the past two weeks with gangrenous skin typical of krokodil use, while Niagara Regional Police are investigating another possible case in Niagara Falls, the Huffington Post said.
“The one gentleman described it as he felt like there was a burning coming from the inside out. And it left holes all over his arms,” outreach worker Rhonda Thompson told Canadian television station CHCH, according to the Huffington Post. "Ever since OxyContin went off the market, it’s turned into the wild West out there.”
According to CHCH, street workers said they believe krokodil has been in Ontario for months now. However, not everybody is convinced krokodil has arrived in North America.
"We see IV drug users with horrible infections on a daily basis," Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward told the Huffington Post. "Infections from bacteria and dirty needles – that doesn’t mean it’s [krokodil].”
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Krokodil is a synthetic opiate made from a mixture of codeine, iodine and toxins such as gasoline, industrial cleaning oil, lighter fluid and paint thinner. Users filter and boil ingredients together, then inject the drug into veins. The effect is reportedly more powerful than heroin -- and cheaper. Its medical name is desomorphine.
“To date, none of our forensic labs have analyzed an exhibit that contains desomorphine [krokodil],” DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told the Daily Beast, according to the Huffington Post. “We have nothing to indicate that it’s out there.”
Krokodil, the Russian word for crocodile, causes the skin to become rough and scaly, leaving many users with amputated limbs because of the gangrene that occurs as the flesh rots. Krokodil appeared in Siberia in 2002 before spreading to the rest of Russia by 2010. Krokodil is believed to have spread to the United States, with cases being reported in Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma and Ohio.