Health & Medicine

Sacramento County fentanyl overdoses now at 48

Death is 'collateral damage' for fentanyl dealers

The state Assembly Appropriation Committee on Aug. 11, 2016 killed SB 1323 to increase penalties for drug traffickers of fentanyl. Orange Co. Sheriff's Captain Stu Greenberg says drug dealers consider fentanyl deaths "collateral damage."
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The state Assembly Appropriation Committee on Aug. 11, 2016 killed SB 1323 to increase penalties for drug traffickers of fentanyl. Orange Co. Sheriff's Captain Stu Greenberg says drug dealers consider fentanyl deaths "collateral damage."

The number of overdoses linked to the potent painkiller fentanyl has grown over the past two days to 48, nearly two weeks after the first reports of such overdoses began popping up in the Sacramento region, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday. No additional deaths have been reported, leaving the region’s fentanyl-linked death toll at 10.

“Obviously, it’s a relief to hear there have been no additional deaths (due to fentanyl),” said Laura McCasland, spokeswoman for the county health department.

The first patients with fentanyl-suspected overdoses began appearing in local hospital emergency rooms on March 23. McCasland said those brought into hospitals so far range in age from 16 to 67 and are evenly split between men and women. Nine of the fentanyl-linked deaths occurred in Sacramento County, with one in Yolo County.

“We are continuing to monitor hospitals and are asking them to report any cases that are suspected of being fentanyl-related overdoses,” McCasland said.

Natasha Butler, mother of 28-year-old Jerome Butler who died of opioid overdose Wednesday, speaks at a vigil in south Sacramento.

Claudia Buck: 916-321-1968, @Claudia_Buck

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