“Their movements are slow and lethargic, a lot of drooling and a loss of function,” Indianapolis Fire Department Capt. Chris Major told CBS4. “We find them with their clothes off, eating the grass, pulling dirt out of the ground and trying to put it in their mouth.”
Health officials in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Indiana are talking about a trend of people getting high from smoking bug spray such as Raid in the last year. Exposure to high concentrations of the active ingredient in bug spray, pyrethroids, can create a zombie-like effect. It can additionally cause respiratory distress and over activity in the central nervous system that leads to sweating, muscle spams, seizure, and coma risk. Animal studies showed that exposure to this chemical can increase adrenaline levels quickly.
The Zombie Drug
Police have received dozens of calls for adverse reactions to Katie, referred also as ‘KD,” and ‘zombie.” Katie is a street name for a wide variety of drugs, all of which have been laced with the bug repellent.
As the problem has persisted in Indiana, the Indianapolis Fire Department Captain Chris Major said it doesn’t take much for a person to have a severe reaction after smoking bug sprayed drugs.
Some of the symptoms of KD include:
- Catatonic State
- Unable to Walk
- Unable to Breathe
- Barely Able to Speak
- Severe Headache
Emergency responders have struggled to keep up with the changing combinations of drugs laced with household chemicals for more than a decade and experts warn that even if the smoking bug spray trend is stopped, another will likely pop up in its place.
Firefighter Scott Lebherz told the IndyStar that bags of KD are sold for about $20 and create a catatonic high for about 45 minutes.
‘You look at what it does to a bug and then you have to think what smoking bug spray is doing to your brain, and your body and everything else,’ Lebherz said.
“They No Longer Have To Drive To A Shady Street Corner”
‘It’s why we use it on bugs, because it overstimulates the bug, they have the equivalent of seizures and die,’ Indiana Poison Center’s medical director Daniel Rusyniak stated. Dr. Rusyniak has a couple of theories for why there is a rising use of this household amenity to get high. “You can legally buy bug spray at a store or online,” he told ABC. “Some of the drug testing may steer kids into using a lot more synthetic drugs because they’re not detected. That means parents can’t rely on a test kit to keep their child away from drugs.”
“If you think, ‘Well my school is doing drug testing so I don’t have to worry about my kid,’ well, some of the drug testings may steer kids into using a lot more of these synthetic type drugs because they’re not detected,” he told ABC. “They no longer have to drive to a shady street corner to obtain it,” Rusyniak says.
However, this isn’t the first time that bug spray has been ingested for drug-inducing purposes.
- In January emergency medical personnel were called to aid a total of 17 people who were believed to have overdosed on ‘Katie’ – another mix of spice and an unknown chemical or drug – near a homeless shelter in downtown Indianapolis.
- In December a Tennessee man admitted to smoking ‘wasp’ – a mix of methamphetamine and bug spray – before breaking into a home and trying to cut himself at a family’s dinner table.
- Mississippi law enforcement officials warned of a dangerous drug called ‘hot shots’ last July – which requires crystallizing wasp spray with a battery before melting it down and injecting it intravenously.
‘A person will stand at a jail cell door, slobber like a mad dog, wanting to fight. Everything is wrong, nothing is right for one minute, then calm down and be just like a normal human being and then go right back into a rage,’ Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell told NewsMS about the ‘hotshot’ drug.
Bug spray is a legal substance, which means that it can be difficult to monitor and control the production and sale of Katie. However, law enforcement believe that raising awareness on the dangers of smoking bug spray may be key to curbing its use.
“You just kind of wonder what’s going to be the next thing,” said Dr. Rusyniak. “If they’re doing this now, what are they going to do next?”