DHS urging substance users to use fentanyl test strips due to surge in overdose cases

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin with a potentially lethal dose, two milligrams, small...
Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin with a potentially lethal dose, two milligrams, small enough to fit on the tip of a sharpened No. 2 pencil.(DEA)
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 4:09 PM CDT
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(WSAW) - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services held a media briefing Wednesday regarding the trend of fentanyl poisoning and deaths.

Public health leaders said it isn’t just a trend in Wisconsin, but nationally. However, fentanyl is more present in drugs and users have no idea the substance they are using has fentanyl.

Dr. Jasmine Zapata is the Chief Medical Officer for Maternal and Child Health and Chronic Diseases. She said in 91% of opioid deaths, fentanyl was a factor. It was also present in 73% of all overdoses.

She described one death in which a college student believed he was taking a percocet pill. However, it contained fentanyl and he died in front of his friends. Zapata said those dying are not the typical drug users people may picture. She said since many overdose victims are unsuspecting-- people as young as middle school are overdosing.

“We want to raise awareness that this is not the traditional people that you think that are going to overdose,” Dr. Zapata said.

Fentanyl is hard to detect as it has no smell, no taste and can’t be seen. Dr. Zapata said a tiny amount—as little as two grains of salt—is enough to kill someone.

DHS health leaders are encouraging people who use substances to obtain fentanyl test strips. Fentanyl test strips are also being distributed for free at some pharmacies, syringe service providers, and opioid treatment programs.

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