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Infectious Disease Problems of Narcotic Addicts

Charles E. Cherubin, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1971;128(2):309-313. doi:10.1001/archinte.1971.00310200145021.
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With the recent widespread increase in narcotic addiction, we as physicians are professionally responsible for the medical care of the increasing number of addicts whom we see in hospitals or in private practice; no one can now justifiably feel himself isolated from treating such patients. Further, they suffer from a high incidence of infrequent or rare infectious diseases and offer the researcher an unusual opportunity to study the disease mechanisms and therapy.

There is a decidedly increased mortality among addicts.1 In New York the principal cause of death appears to be a syndrome of sudden collapse accompanied by pulmonary edema subsequent to an intravenous injection.2

Other conditions associated with narcotic usage are such infectious disease as tetanus, septicemia, hepatitis, an unknown type of chronic liver disease, endocarditis, and superficial abscesses.1,3,4 We no longer see in this city the malaria which was at one time the most widely


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