In a follow-up on the outbreak of severe bleeding linked to synthetic cannabinoid use in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is now reporting 95 cases through today.

The death toll in this outbreak remains at two.

More than 80 percent of the cases have been reported from Chicago and Peoria and Tazewell Counties.

In addition to the Illinois cases, Emergency Departments in Indiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), and Wisconsin (1) have  reported cases of serious unexplained bleeding.

The long-acting anti-coagulant brodifacoum (rodenticide) was confirmed in at least 18 patients.

Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made, mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. They are sold for recreational drug use with claims they will provide the user the effects of cannabis. These products are also known as herbal or liquid incense and have brand names such as K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Genie, and Zohai, but may be packaged under other brand names also.

These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called “synthetic marijuana” (or “fake weed”), and they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug. In fact, they are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening.