Authorities investigate increase in ER visits possibly related to contaminated CBD oil

Authorities investigate increase in ER visits possibly related to contaminated CBD oil. (Photo: USFWS)

North Carolina health officials are alerting the public to a recent increase in emergency department visits by people who reported using cannabidiol (CBD) oil or a similar product in electronic cigarettes and/or vaporizing pens.

“People should be aware that products labeled as CBD oil might contain other substances,” said State Health Director Betsey Tilson, M.D., MPH. “The symptoms we are seeing that result in these emergency department visits are not typical for CBD oil use.”

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The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is working with Carolinas Poison Center to investigate more than 30 reports since December of individuals who were treated in emergency departments across the state for serious symptoms, including an altered mental status, hallucinations, seizures, loss of consciousness and rapid heartbeat.

The number of patients is double those who sought emergency medical care in the previous year. No deaths have been reported.

Similar serious symptoms related to CBD oil use have been reported at medical facilities at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, where military health authorities have also raised concerns.

CBD oil is made from hemp plants and is used when vaping, eaten with food or drink or placed under the tongue. CBD oil is widely available under various brand names that consumers can buy in stores or online.

North Carolina health officials have not identified a specific brand or source associated with the emergency department visits.

If people experience these symptoms, they should seek medical attention and call 911 if immediate assistance is needed.

To report symptoms or get answers to questions related to CBD oil, call the Carolinas Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.