Despite a federal ban on bath salts, their makers have been coming up with new formulas and selling them legally. Recent media reports attribute "zombie" attacks and cannibalism to the use of these substances. There are plenty of documented risks to consumers from ingesting bath salts in their various forms, but is becoming a "zombie" or cannibal one of them?
New Day, New "Zombie" Attack
In the latest so-called "zombie" attack Carl Jacquneaux, 43, reportedly bit a chunk of flesh the size of a quarter from his ex-wife's husband's cheek, the New York Daily News reported. The incident happened in Louisiana last weekend.
While police said they believed Jacquneaux was under the influence of narcotics, they didn't perform blood tests before charging him with aggravated second degree battery, violation of a protective order, aggravated burglary, simple battery and violation of probation, the Blaze reported.
On May 26, police shot a man in Miami after he chewed off 75 to 80 percent of another man's face. CNN reported police suspicion that the attacker was under the influence of bath salts.
Zombies, Cannibalism, Media Hype?
The media reports are quick to call perpetrators in such attacks "zombies" and to characterize their bites as cannibalism. Police in both cases suggested a narcotics link, possibly bath salts.
The preliminary report on the Miami attacker, Rudy Eugene, showed only marijuana use, though full toxicology tests that may show additional drug use are underway, the Miami New Times noted Wednesday.
Police said no blood test was done in the Louisiana case, so the public may never know whether bath salts or other drugs were involved.
This leaves the public to grapple with whether the sensationalized bath salts-zombie cannibalism connection is real or media hype.
Fights and Bites
While the Miami attack was particularly extreme, bites during fights are neither new nor intrinsic to illicit drug use.
* In March, one man bit off part of another man's ear in Springfield, Mass., after a youth basketball game. The Republican report did not indicate any drugs were involved.
* A fight over what was on television resulted in one man biting off another's ear at a diner in Staten Island last week, Staten Island Advance reported. There was no indication drugs were involved.
* According to WISH, an Indiana man's ear was bitten off in a 2009 road rage incident. Drug use was not to blame.
* An LA Times article describes a highly publicized finger-tip biting incident in 2009, resulting from anger over healthcare reform, not drugs.
While there are health risks to consumers attributable to bath salts, becoming a zombie or cannibal probably isn't one of them.
Carol Bengle Gilbert writes about consumer issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.