April 14, 2023

Overdose Response Team Issues Public Health Advisory

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The Oneida County Overdose Response Team has issued a Public Health Advisory regarding an increase in drug overdose deaths that has resulted in seven known fatalities in the last 30 days. 

Preliminary information shows that the fatalities — which occurred in Boonville, Sauquoit, Utica and Whitesboro — involved heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine tainted with fentanyl. Two of the deaths occurred on April 7, 2023. Year-to-date, there have been 17 suspected overdose fatalities.

The advisory also includes a warning about local drugs thought to be either heroin or methamphetamine that are testing positive for both fentanyl and xylazine. Xylazine, an animal sedative commonly found in street drugs throughout the U.S., compounds the sedative effects of opioids like heroin and fentanyl, increasing the risk of overdose death.

While fentanyl remains the most frequent drug listed as the cause of death in overdose fatalities in the county, xylazine has been detected in two of the four overdose deaths with completed toxicology reports so far this year. Thirteen cases are still pending.

“Our overdose and drug trend surveillance data is telling us that the risk for overdose death is higher than usual in our community right now, likely due to illicitly-manufactured fentanyl and xylazine being mixed into the local street drug supply,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr.  “We encourage individuals, families, response partners and service providers in all settings, to share this information; look out of for those who may be especially vulnerable and take actions right now to help mitigate the rise in overdose deaths.”

With the continued rise of illicitly-manufactured fentanyl in all types of street drugs, and new and emerging drugs and drug mixtures across the nation, harm reduction strategies are being recommended to help stem the tide of rising overdose deaths, including carrying or keeping naloxone on site, using fentanyl test strips and never using drugs alone. 

Anyone in need of naloxone (Narcan) can request a free kit through the Oneida County Health Department’s Narcan-by-Mail program at www.ocopioidtaskforce.org.  A listing of local agencies with fentanyl test strips, and other resources provided by the Opioid Task Force are also available on the website.

Oneida County Partners