Public Health Update: Heroin Overdose Deaths on the Rise; Rx Opioid Overdose Deaths Down

 BALTIMORE (December 7, 2012) – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene today released data for the first seven months of 2012 that show an increase in overdose deaths related to heroin coinciding with a decline in overdose deaths related to prescription opioids. Overall, there were six percent more drug overdose deaths during the first seven months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Following a decline from 2007 to 2011, there were 205 heroin-related overdose deaths in the first seven months of 2012, compared to 145 during the same period in 2011, an increase of 41 percent. At the same time, overdose deaths related to prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone have declined by 15 percent, from 208 to 177.

Central Maryland experienced a 47 percent increase in heroin overdose deaths, while Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore have also seen substantial increases of 54 percent and 80 percent, respectively.

The shift from prescription opioid- to heroin-related overdose deaths may reflect a growing trend where individuals who abuse prescription opioids initiate heroin use. Public health and law enforcement authorities in Maryland and across the country are reporting that heroin is becoming a cheap, potent and accessible alternative to pharmaceutical opioids that are now more expensive and difficult to obtain for non-medical use. The largest increases in fatal heroin-related overdoses in Maryland have been among younger age groups, including a 53 percent increase among ages 15-24 and a 59 percent increase among ages 35-44.

“The rise in overdoses from heroin is a new and concerning trend,” said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. "By addressing this issue, we can continue the progress Maryland has made against drug addiction."

Maryland's public health response to this challenge will include:

Outreach to physicians and other health care providers to help them identify potential heroin users and refer them to effective treatment. Click here to read a letter sent to Maryland physicians;
Support for innovative local efforts to respond to drug overdose across the state; and
Development of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to provide support for referral to treatment.

Reducing drug-induced deaths is a major public health goal of Maryland’s State Health Improvement Process (http://dhmh.maryland.gov/SHIP).


 

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WCHD News

 

SNOW HILL, Md. – The Worcester County Health Department urges all residents age 6 months and older, including pregnant women and those with medical conditions, to be vaccinated for the 2018-2019 seasonal flu. People age 65 years and older have a choice of two flu vaccines available to them at the Worcester County Health Department. They can choose to receive a regular flu vaccine or a high dose flu vaccine which may result in a stronger immune response against the flu.

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Due to ongoing construction issues, the WACS Center will be closed through October 19 and move services to other locations. The center is scheduled to reopen on Monday, October 22nd.

All services at this site have been relocated to either Snow Hill or the Berlin Health Center. We apologize for any inconvenience. For more information or to check on the status of your appointment, please call 410-632-1100.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.

This bacterium is found in the nose, throat and mouth of an infected person, and can be easily spread. Pertussis can occur at any age, but often causes serious problems in babies, and is usually milder in older children and adults. Children who are too young to be fully vaccinated and those that have not received all their vaccinations are at highest risk for severe illness and complications. Complications of pertussis can include pneumonia (infection of the lungs), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), seizures, and other physical and medical outcomes associated with a severe cough.

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Our new Just Walk Worcester website has information on local parks, walking tips, and videos of trails in our area. If you like to walk, check it out! Click the image below to see the new site. 

 

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Snow Hill, MD- Worcester County Health Department will launch “Just Walk Worcester” on October 12. This new website will be an inclusive resource for finding places to walk and explore no matter where you are in the county. The site features maps of all local parks and trails as well as walking tips, helpful videos, and details about each area including the length of trails, if there are any fees and if the spot is pet-friendly. Residents can view drone footage of each trail, allowing walkers to know the ins and outs of the path before they even lace up their shoes.

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