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8 more people hospitalized in Milwaukee due to synthetic marijuana the past two weeks

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The City of Milwaukee Health Department is once again reminding residents to stay away from synthetic marijuana, known as K2, Fake weed, or Spice, which contain rat poison. There have been eight probable cases in Milwaukee within the past two weeks bringing the total number of cases to 34 confirmed and 13 probable in Milwaukee, as of August 30.

One death has been associated with K2 use in Milwaukee County, 33-year-old Vanessa Fernandez from Franklin. She died on July 1st.

Her family says she is survived by her long-time boyfriend and son, two brothers and a lot of family and friends "that loved her dearly."

They say she had no idea she was ingesting rat poison when she used the synthetic drug.

The last days of her life, Fernandez was bleeding from multiple orifices, vomiting blood and bruising. Health officials say those symptoms also hospitalized 37 people in the state this year.

"The way rat poison works is it keeps you from clotting so you don't clot as easily. So, minor injuries could cause bleeding that normally would be mild would be quite severe," said Dr. Jon Meiman.

Meiman is leading the investigation into the rat poison cases for the Department of Health Services. He says going to the hospital in time can save a user from death, but the effects don't stop there. Once an antidote is applied, there's long-term therapy involved. In addition to life-threatening bleeding, synthetic marijuana can cause seizures, heart attacks, and breathing problems to name a few.

“This recent increase in cases means that this product is circulating in our community again,” said Lindsey Page, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist. “These products are not safe and should not be used”

K2 can cause severe bleeding, unexplained bruising, and could lead to death. Individuals should expect several months of follow-up treatment after poisoning occurs. For more information visit milwaukee.gov/synthetic-weed

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