Police in Spain are investigating about 50 reported cases of women getting pricked with medical needles while at nightclubs or parties, a trend that previously came to the attention of.
So far, Spanish police have not confirmed any cases of sexual assault or robbery related to the mysterious jabs. Police said that 23 of the recently reported needle attacks were in northeast Spain's Catalonia region, which borders France.
Waves of needle pricks at nightclubs and musical events also have confounded authorities in France, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. French police have tallied over 400 reports in recent months, and said the motive of the jabs was unclear. In many cases, it also wasn't clear if the victims were injected with a substance.
Spanish police so far have found evidence of drugs in one victim, a 13-year-old girl in the northern city of Gijón who had the party drug ecstasy in her system. Local media reported that the girl was quickly taken to hospital by her parents, who were near her when she felt a prick with something sharp.
In an interview with national public broadcaster TVE that aired Wednesday, Spanish Justice Minister Pilar Llop urged everyone who thinks they received a shot without their consent to go to the police, since being stabbed with a needle "is a serious act of violence against women."
Spanish health authorities said they were updating their protocols to improve the ability to detect any substances that were possibly injected into victims. The toxicological screening protocols call for blood or urine tests within 12 hours of a suspected attack, Llop said.
The guidelines advise victims to immediately call emergency services and go to a health center as soon as possible.
In southwest France, a spate of needle attacks were reported during the Bayonne Festival, which about 1.2 million people attended last week in the city near Spain's border.
Bayonne Deputy Prosecutor Caroline Parizel said 124 people received medical examinations after they reported potential needle attacks. They included both women and men. Eleven filed legal complaints.
Last month, French prosecutorsin southern France in connection with a spate of needle attacks.
A rash of needle spiking cases was reported in Britain in 2021. In November, 19-year-old British student Sarah Buckleshe was out clubbing with her friends when something went terribly wrong.
"Apparently I started screaming and then throwing up and going unconscious and coming back around, and it was just this horrible cycle," Buckle told CBS News. "My friends, at this point, could tell: 'No, something's really, really wrong… She's not had too much to drink. This is something completely different,'" Buckle said.
Her friends took her to the hospital, where she woke up the next morning with no memory of what had happened the night before. Her hand was throbbing, and a bruise was developing with what looked like a needle prick in the middle.
"When I spoke to police, they also found it very strange, and a scientist who works with the police had a look and said, 'Well, that definitely looks like a needle prick.'"
Haley Ott contributed to this report.
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