Flesh-eating US zombie drug tranq now on streets of Britain – sparking fears of ‘public health threat’

By Staff 6 Min Read

The flesh-eating zombie drug known as tranq is now in the UK and is sparking fears of having a similarly deadly impact as in the United States, where addicts reportedly live like zombies

The flesh-eating zombie drug known as tranq has made its way on to the streets of Britain, sparking fears of a “public health threat” like that seen in the US.

Xylazine, a powerful animal tranquilliser, has become a deadly recreational drug sweeping the US. The Mirror told on Monday how the drug, known as tranq, leaves addicts painfully contorted, like living zombies, on the streets of the US. It can also cause flesh-rotting skin sores and lead to suffocation.

Xylazine has been blamed for one death in the UK and may have contributed to several more. In most cases the drug is mixed with strong opioids, such as heroin, but a study found it in counterfeit prescription medication, cannabis vapes and cocaine.

The study, in the journal Addiction, warns of side effects including airway compromise, and ulcers which can lead to amputation. Researchers at King’s College London said xylazine was a major concern in the US and this “public health threat has now expanded to the United Kingdom”.

Senior author Dr Caroline Copeland said: “We now know xylazine has penetrated the UK’s illicit drug market. This is cause for alarm as a much wider population of people who use drugs beyond heroin users will be exposed to its harms.” The drug was first found in the UK when toxicologists at the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths noticed a “strange peak” in test results, which was later identified as xylazine.

Researchers then examined various toxicology, drug testing and drug seizure reports and found 35 cases of xylazine in England, Scotland and Wales by the end of August, 2023. No cases were found in Northern Ireland. They published data on 16 samples taken from toxicology labs, where the drug was found in 16 people, including 11 who died.

Dr Copeland, NPSAD director, said xylazine was not included in standard drug screenings. She said: “How big is the UK’s xylazine problem? This could be the tiniest tip of a growing iceberg.” Dr Copeland said: “There are three simple measures the UK can introduce to prevent the epidemic of xylazine use that has emerged in the USA.

“Xylazine test strips should be made available, healthcare providers need to be aware of the signs that chronic skin ulcers are due to ­xylazine use, and pathologists and coroners must specifically request toxicology testing for xylazine in relevant cases to understand the true prevalence of the drug.”

Philadelphia drug worker Kristen Schmidt told the Mirror: “If Britain is to learn anything from Philly, it’s to act quickly.” A Government spokesperson said: “We intend to make xylazine a Class C drug, meaning anyone supplying this substance will face up to 14 years in prison, a fine or both.”

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