Medicine

Three backpackers critically ill after snorting date-rape drug

Three backpackers critically ill after snorting date-rape drug

Two Frenchmen were fighting for their lives on Friday after a mass drug overdose in an Australian household that sent nine European backpackers to a hospital.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Gary Budge said the incident was a sobering reminder that people taking unknown substances, be they illicit or prescription drugs, are seriously risking their health and wellbeing.

Within minutes they suffered extreme symptoms, including seizures, paralysis, overheating and hallucinations.

But the drug is also popular with criminals in countries such as Colombia because of its ability to put overdose victims into a "zombie"-like state, making them easier to rob or sexually abuse". All were aged between 21 and 25.

The backpacker said the package was sent from NY dated December 11, addressed to a name none of them knew.

The group chose to open the package anyway and found a white powder inside wrapped in a piece of paper with the word "scoop" on it.

"Scoop" may have been a reference to "scopolamine", another name for Hyoscine.

However, the backpackers thought they had chanced on a free package of high-grade cocaine.

Thinking it was cocaine, they divided the powder up and snorted it, Simone said.

Medical experts told The West Australian it was fortunate no one died.

Two Frenchmen aged 22 and 25 are fighting for life in hospital while a German woman remains in an induced coma in a serious but stable condition
Three backpackers critically ill after snorting date-rape drug

The group was only discovered when another housemate arrived home and called an ambulance.

He said: "It was carnage".

A neighbour told ABC the nine were suffering from seizures and had glassed eyes when they were taken from the house on stretchers. "Two other guys were fitting and flailing around with their arms and legs and pulling unusual faces".

Costs at Royal Perth Hospital start at $245 for the emergency department.

Doctor David McCutcheon said: "They were brought to us in a state of agitated delirium".

"They were hallucinating [and] their hearts were racing", he said.

"Several of these people would have died I'm pretty sure without medical intervention and three of them are still in a critical condition".

Two men and a woman were taken to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, where two of them are also in intensive care.

McCutcheon said it was too early to know if patients would have any permanent organ damage.

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