This is the new disturbing phenomenon that has been agitating French evenings for a few months: syringe attacks. In Brittany, Valence, Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier, Périgueux, Grenoble… And in dozens of other French cities, the testimonies of victims are pouring in. What do these syringes contain? How to react ? What are the real risks? We try to popularize the phenomenon a little to better understand it.
1. Several symptoms should alert you
The scenario is almost always the same: the victims say they noticed traces of bites, often surrounded by a hematoma, on their legs, arms or neck, after an event bringing together a lot of people (festival, concert, or evening for example). Sometimes dizziness or even malaise, nausea, hot flushes, or even amnesia follow. The person affected may exhibit “unusual behavior or a feeling of drunkenness too quickly with regard to consumption”.
2. You can get bitten without realizing it
If the symptoms are similar from one victim to another, they are not always present. Some people feel no effect, not even the sting itself. It is therefore important, after any festive evening, to carefully check every corner of your body, to detect a possible bite and react accordingly.
3. Several hundred complaints have been recorded
In France, between March 2022 and June 16 of the same year, 808 complaints were filed and 1,098 victims identified. Figures communicated by the General Directorate of the National Police to Figaro. According to the newspaper, Morbihan is the most affected French department, in particular because of the dozens of cases identified during the “Insolent” festival at the end of April. The Var and the Hérault are also particularly affected by the phenomenon.
4. Men are as affected as women
According to the summary note drawn up by the General Directorate of the National Police on June 7, 2022, the attackers do not make distinctions between men and women. They sting, loosely and from behind, regardless of the sex of the victim.
5. These bites still hide many mysteries
On June 21, 2022, the Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul-Malak, declared at the microphone of France Inter that these bites remain an enigma, “since there is neither contamination, nor products which are taken, nor aggression at the from these stings. But they really do exist. “. Indeed, the bites are very real, but no victim has reported acts of “sexual assault or theft following the bite”, assures the DGPN. The motivations of the attackers remain unclear.
6. Contrary to popular belief, no bites have yet been associated with GHB
It is the Anti-Narcotics Office (Ofast) which is responsible for centralizing “the number of facts and the qualitative elements”. According to the DGPN, “When acts are reported, samples are taken as a priority” even before a complaint is filed. For the moment, the analyzes carried out have not revealed any trace of GHB. However, an important variable must be considered: the search for toxic substances is complicated by the delays. GHB disappears from the body quickly (within hours). In addition, some injected substances are naturally already present in the body. This is the case of insulin or adrenaline. In fact, they can go unnoticed in the analyses.
The authorities do not exclude the hypothesis according to which these bites are carried out simply to scare, without any substance being injected.
7. How to react?
It is necessary to act in several stages. First, the most important of all: your safety. As soon as you perceive that something is wrong: above all, do not isolate yourself. Warn. Go see your friends or the staff of the establishment, and do not stay alone.
Then it all depends on your condition. If you feel unwell, your symptoms are heavy or you are out of control, go to the emergency room immediately, or dial 15 or 18. If you can, don’t go. not in the toilet before your pick-up. Your urine could detect certain substances if there was an injection.
If you have no symptoms other than a bite mark, contact the police so that they can take care of you, collect your complaint and launch the necessary investigation.
8. If you can, remember to withhold evidence
Of course, this again depends on your condition. But if you are able to do so, point out anything that might advance the investigation and help confuse your attacker. For example, take a picture of your puncture mark and record the time. It might help the investigation.
9. It’s not just about GHB
Psychoactive drugs, illegal drugs or illnesses: all sorts of substances can be injected by injection. Even if your memories are clear and you did not have the impression of having been drugged, tests are necessary. If the attacker pricks several people with the same syringe, he can also contaminate the victims among themselves, with their respective blood.
10. Beware of urban legends and intox
The phenomenon is, rightly, very scary. On the other hand, we must also succeed in making sense of things in the midst of this psychosis. We often hear that the phenomenon is linked to a trend on social networks, inviting users to sting as many people as possible. In fact, no such challenge has been identified online. On the other hand, nothing excludes the possibility that this is done on Snapchat, where the messages are ephemeral and the proofs difficult to find.
Similarly, the transmission of HIV has always been the subject of many urban legends. We easily remember the one, circulating in the 2010s, and warning against syringes infected with HIV on the seats of cinemas. It was wrong. If you are told that a friend’s sister got bitten by HIV in a party, don’t believe it without proof. These rumors contribute to the general psychosis, but are rarely proven.
11. What about HIV?
On the other hand, if the psychosis takes, it is because HIV, just like hepatitis B and hepatitis C, can indeed be transmitted by needle. On the other hand, the lifespan in the open air of the virus does not exceed a few minutes, according to Sida Info Service. In this way, the idea of a prepared HIV injection is unlikely. However, in the event of a bite, HIV screening will still be essential. As mentioned above, if the attacker pricks several people with the same needle, they can transmit diseases. If an HIV-positive person is pricked, his blood ends up on the needle, and the latter ends up in the muscles of another: there is a risk of contamination. For this to happen, there must be blood-to-blood contact, and the needle used must be hollow. So we don’t allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the anxieties conveyed by urban legends, but we don’t minimize the risks and we seek medical help in the event of an injection.
And since something creepy is not enough, or also reminds you of the importance of watching your drinks and those of your loved ones in the evening. GHB drug testimonials in glasses are also growing.
For any questions, contact 0 800 23 13 13. “Drugs info service” is available from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., 7 days a week. Calls are anonymous and free from a landline.