Four more Georgians may have been sickened by a potentially lethal form of synthetic marijuana, state officials said Friday.
Two of the new cases occurred in the same Brunswick area that already had 12 victims, said Rick Allen, director of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.
Two Brunswick patients remain hospitalized and gravely ill, Allen said.
He added that the other two probable new cases came in Bartow County, in the northwest corner of metro Atlanta.
“We’re working with the GBI and other agencies to confirm four more cases,’’ said Department of Public Health spokesman Ryan Deal on Friday.
Public Health said that eight Brunswick cases appear to be from “Crazy Clown,” which has been marketed as “herbal incense,’’ bath salts, or “roll your own’’ tobacco.
A week ago, Public Health sent out an emergency alert to doctors and physician assistants about the substance, which has been sold in convenience stores and other shops. Allen credited the Georgia health officials for “doing a great job getting the word out.’’
The GBI Crime Lab is close to identifying the ingredients in the substance inhaled or ingested in the Brunswick area, Allen said.
He said Georgia officials have been in contact with health officials in Denver, where metro area emergency rooms are seeing a surge of patients who are agitated and violent after using synthetic marijuana.
University of Colorado Hospital’s emergency department has taken in 20 to 30 patients in the past few days whose symptoms were apparently related to using synthetic marijuana, the Denver Post reported.
Public Health officials in Georgia said last Friday that there are indications that the chemicals or ingredients have been altered to be more dangerous. The substance is most commonly smoked or burned in a small bowl and inhaled.
When ingested or inhaled, the neurotoxin can render a person immobile or unconscious and cause severe cardiac problems.
Public Health officials said first responders have reported unusual strength, agitation and combativeness in some users. Some users have been rendered immobile, displayed abnormal reflexes or no reflexes at all, and in some cases lost consciousness.
Symptoms may appear almost immediately after a person ingests or inhales the substance, or the symptoms may be delayed until more of the product is taken in.
Allen said Brunswick area merchants are removing the products from their stores.
The state has attempted crackdowns on synthetic marijuana and herbal incense in the past, and last year Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law prohibiting “all forms of synthetic marijuana.”
But some manufacturers change the composition of these products slightly to try to get around the wording of the law and keep the products on store shelves.