As of Friday morning, 36 overdose cases and nine deaths linked to the synthetic opioid fentanyl have been reported to the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services.
Public health officials believe that fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that can cause cardiac arrest, was laced into counterfeit Norco tablets, a common prescription painkiller. They’re urging people not to take prescription-type pills that haven’t been prescribed by and obtained from a physician or pharmacy.
Eight of the deaths occurred in Sacramento County and one occurred in Yolo County, according to a county news release. The ages of those who overdosed range from 18 to 59, and the issue has affected both men and women.
In San Joaquin County, there have been 18 reported cases of overdoses possibly tied to fentanyl since March 30, according to county public health services spokeswoman Krista Dommer.
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The reports came after the department sent a notice to area emergency rooms requesting notification of any patients showing signs of opioid overdose. Toxicology reports have not confirmed whether these patients ingested fentanyl.
“Our assistant health officer sent out a health alert to our emergency rooms requesting heightened surveillance and awareness,” she said. “We wanted to get a better feel of what was going on in our county.”