As the number of so called "bath salts" druggings increase in the Rogue Valley, one local doctor is taking it upon himself to warn the community.
Sounding the alarm.
"It's def rising, we're seeing one patient per week." Dr. James Hammel says medical professionals at local hospitals are seeing more and more cases of people using bath salts. Including a case at Rogue Valley Medical Center in the last 24 hours.
"Patient who was brought here after lighting himself on fire and then transferred up to Portland," remarks Hammel. The doctor continued he was too badly injured to be treated here. This just one of the latest victims of this dangerous drug.
At today's presentation the doctor's goal was to educate other doctors and police on how to understand, diagnose, and prevent the drug.
Bath salts, is known by many names including: plant food, mephedrone, and MCAT. He says the drug is extremely addictive and effects can last for days. The drug is not traceable through toxicology reports and symptoms manifest themselves in dangerous ways: rapid heart rate, chest pains..suicidal thoughts and...
"temps of up to 107.5, you basically cook to death," states Hammel.
Recent reports of bath salts causing animalistic activity, necrotizing fasiitis..or cannibalism, and public indecency are increasing the concern, especially due to the drugs target audience. "This is being marked to young people," says Hammel. "They know who their target is."
Currently 40 states have banned the substance including Oregon. but new designer drugs are being developed all the time.
Hammel says, "There are actual compounds like this that are still legal."
Causing medical professionals, and law enforcement to constantly fight an uphill battle. Which is why Dr. Hammel is warning the public.
"These are some of the most violent people," states Hammel. "There's no question they are a very serious threat to the community." Raising a red flag to the community that bath salts are here --an ever present danger.
It's not just a local epidemic..... nationally, poison control received 5000 calls last year about bath salts, versus 300 in 2010.