The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that from March 10, 2018 through April 5, 2018, 94 people have gone to emergency departments with serious unexplained bleeding (89 in Illinois including 2 deaths, 2 in Indiana, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, and 1 in Wisconsin). There may be an additional suspected case in Pennsylvania, according to the National Poison Data System.
There have not been any reported cases thus far in Ohio. As a precaution, ODH has issued a health advisory to healthcare providers in case they see patients with similar symptoms.
Illinois has linked many of its cases to the use of synthetic cannabinoids (sometimes called synthetic marijuana), perhaps tainted with a rat poison ingredient. Several Illinois cases have tested positive for brodifacoum, an active ingredient often used in rat poison known to cause significant bleeding issues. Many Illinois cases have required hospitalization for symptoms such as coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, and/or bleeding gums.
Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made, mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed onto dried plant material. They can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized in e-cigarettes and other devices. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to those found in the marijuana plant. The health effects from using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable, harmful, and deadly. Synthetic cannabinoids have brand names such as K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Genie, and Zohai, but also may be packaged under other brand names.
Synthetic cannabinoids are a controlled substance under Ohio law and cannot be legally sold in the state. However, not every state regulates synthetic cannabinoids which can be found in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, and novelty stores in those states, as well as for sale online.
Details about Illinois cases are available at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/synthetic-cannabinoids.