Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – Doctors say bath salts are a rising health concern; and not just for addicts, but for those around them.
The Upstate Poison Control Center says that in 2011, 118 cases were reported. In contrast, the center says 141 cases have been reported in the first five months of 2012 alone.
The drug has been linked, either in fact or speculatively, to several recent incidents. Police believe a woman in Munnsville may have been taking bath salts
during a Tuesday night incident in which they responded to a report that she was assaulting a 3-year-old child.
Witnesses say Pamela McCarthy had ingested bath salts before she was seen running naked in the street and assaulting the child. Police also said McCarthy was reportedly “growling” at people.
"These drugs perhaps in some way turn off the higher functioning areas of the brain and really reduce people to a very primal instinct - lights on, nobody home kind of thing. They really don't know what's going on either,” said Dr. Alexander Garrard of the Upstate Poison Control Center.
Complicating matters, doctors can’t keep track of the drug’s composition as new designs emerge all the time in order for the manufacturers and dealers to stay ahead of law enforcement.
The drug has become associated with violent, delusional behavior – whether by fact or by conjecture.
"People attacking their own family members, it's a real public health threat. It's very scary. We as public healthcare providers really don't know what to make of it. We have an idea how to manage it, but there is no anecdote for something like this. That's the scary part,” Garrard said.