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Chilling Images Show Devastation of Flesh-Rotting 'Zombie Drug' Epidemic: How Animal Sedative Mixed With Fentanyl Has Made Philadelphia Ground Zero for Tranq

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May 28 2023, Published 1:00 p.m. ET

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The White House has declared Xylazine, the drug also known as "tranq," an emerging threat to the city of Philadelphia, RadarOnline.com has learned.

The city's Department of Health and Board of Health released a joint statement calling the drug a significant contributor to the surge of overdoses and drug-related deaths.

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Philadelphia health officials say the city has become "ground zero" of the drug epidemic.

"Xylazine has hit Philadelphia particularly hard, causing increased overdose deaths as well as severe wounds that can lead to sepsis and amputation," the joint statement reads. "As a result, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has been working closely with partners across the city to address this new aspect of the drug overdose epidemic."

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Sarah Laurel, the founder of harm reduction nonprofit Savage Sisters, told NPR that the number of xylazine usage has skyrocketed over the last four years.

"We are now left with individuals that have open gaping ulcers, infections, some necrotic tissue, and that leads to amputation," she told the outlet.

"Nobody asked for this," Laurel added. "When you are a person who is purchasing drugs from the criminal drug market, you get what you get, and you don't get upset. I don't think that anybody knew that it would have this catastrophic effect."

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A neighborhood in Kensington has also become a focal point revolving around the flesh-eating drug. Former City Councilmember Allan Domb, now running for local office, called the problem an "issue of supply and demand" during a public health forum held last month where he called for a "crackdown" on the harmful drug.

"We've allowed Kensington to be a containment site — like, it's OK to go there and do drugs and sell drugs there. It's unacceptable," he told the forum.

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Domb's political opponent, Helen Gym, is also ready to go to war with the illegal drug market, claiming that she will end Kensington's drug trade if elected mayor.

"It's not just about making bad things go away," she explained. "It's restoring neighborhoods for neighbors, making sure that our parks and [recreation] centers, libraries, and civic and public spaces come back to life."

She said that, if elected, she would lead a coordinated effort to end all "open-air" drug markets in her district.

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