A synthetic street drug is being blamed for the sudden illness of at least 18 people on LA's Skid Row Friday.
The group of people believed to be homeless showed similar symptoms vomiting, slurring their speech and difficulty with muscular coordination.
Los Angeles Fire Department officials say paramedics responded to the area at about 10 a.m. on Friday. They found a group of people, believed to be homeless, who showed the same symptoms — difficulty with muscular coordination, slurring their speech and vomiting.
They were transported to a nearby hospital and their injuries are not expected to be life threatening.
Authorities believe an illegal drug known as "spice" caused the symptoms.
"Its distribution is so fast that one bad batch can decimate an area," Los Angeles Police Captain Don Graham tells KPCC's media partner NBC 4.
This isn't the first time "spice" has hit Skid Row. In the spring, 14 people fell ill in one weekend after consuming "spice." The synthetic drug is made from plant matter soaked with various chemicals and generally sells for $1 to $2 a dose.
Union Rescue Mission CEO Andy Bales, who has worked in the area for over a decade, told KPCC it's the most vexing drug he has dealt with:
"We've dealt with alcohol for years. We've dealt with crack cocaine. We've dealt with heroin. We've dealt with meth. But spice — and people using spice — is the most unpredictable drug we've ever had to come up against in our work."
Synthetic drugs like "spice" have also become a major problem in other cities including New York, where a bad batch of the drug K2 sickened 130 people in three days in July. Authorities there have pledged to crack down on it.
The Los Angeles Fire Department says LAPD urges anyone who might have the drug to throw it away.