DEKALB COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Investigators in DeKalb and Cherokee counties said at least 30 people between 16 and 30 years old have kidney damage because of synthetic drugs.
A doctor who treated one of the individuals in the hospital after doing spice said that for those people who are out there smoking this tainted spice, it can be a particularly dangerous situation.
"Spice is out there, and it's contaminated with something," said Dr. Carmelo Mendiola.
Dr. Mendiola is a doctor at DeKalb Regional Medical Center where some patients have been treated after smoking tainted spice.
He said his case had distinct symptoms.
"Nausea, vomiting, belly pains, not feeling well and so when they come into the hospital their kidneys are failing,"
Dr. Mendiola said there is something in the tainted spice that's causing kidney failure.
"There must be a direct substance that affects the kidneys," he said.
They do not know what that substance is, and Mendiola says there's only one way to find out.
"If we can get a hold of a sample of the spice and analyze it," he said.
The doctor said people who smoke the tainted spice are seeing the symptoms pretty quickly, but the problem is they are not addressing it quickly. He said his patient waited for several days before seeking medical attention, and that can cause a person to have to go on dialysis.
"Until they get a kidney transplant or hopefully they recover their kidney function down the road," he said.
Doctors say people who smoke this tainted spice and begin seeing symptoms should go to the emergency room as soon as possible.