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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 Dec 19;63(50):1195-8.

Illnesses and deaths among persons attending an electronic dance-music festival - New York City, 2013.


Outdoor electronic dance-music festivals (EDMFs) are typically summer events where attendees can dance for hours in hot temperatures. EDMFs have received increased media attention because of their growing popularity and reports of illness among attendees associated with recreational drug use. MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is one of the drugs often used at EDMFs. MDMA causes euphoria and mental stimulation but also can cause serious adverse effects, including hyperthermia, seizures, hyponatremia, rhabdomyolysis, and multiorgan failure. In this report, MDMA and other synthetic drugs commonly used at dance festivals are referred to as "synthetic club drugs." On September 1, 2013, the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) received reports of two deaths of attendees at an EDMF (festival A) held August 31-September 1 in NYC. DOHMH conducted an investigation to identify and characterize adverse events resulting in emergency department (ED) visits among festival A attendees and to determine what drugs were associated with these adverse events. The investigation identified 22 cases of adverse events; nine cases were severe, including two deaths. Twenty-one (95%) of the 22 patients had used drugs or alcohol. Of 17 patients with toxicology testing, MDMA and other compounds were identified, most frequently methylone, in 11 patients. Public health messages and strategies regarding adverse health events might reduce illnesses and deaths at EDMFs.

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