DHMH Warns of Potent and Deadly Drug Combination

Baltimore, MD (January 31, 2014) --- Maryland’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
(OCME) reports an increase in the number of deaths linked to a potent and deadly batch of
heroin that is tainted with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, DHMH announced today.

According to OCME data, between September 2013 and today, at least 37 Maryland deaths
were caused by the lethal drug combination. The fentanyl/heroin deaths represent
approximately 12 percent of 318 overdose deaths during the same time period. This
represents the preliminary total of overdose deaths for the period between September 2013
and January 2014.

"DHMH is reaching out to local behavioral health providers to ensure that they are fully
informed about this dangerous and deadly trend,” said Dr. Gayle Jordan Randolph, Deputy
Secretary for DHMH Behavioral Health Services. “We will support the local authorities as
they adapt their overdose prevention plans in response to this deadly trend."

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl is
estimated to be 80 times more powerful than morphine and hundreds of times more potent
than heroin. The presence of fentanyl dramatically increases the risk of an overdose death.

“Deaths due to the deadly heroin mixture appear to be widespread in Maryland and not
localized to any specific area,” says Dr. David Fowler, Chief Medical Examiner for the State.
“We have also seen overdose deaths due to fentanyl mixed with cocaine.”

Fentanyl-related deaths have been reported from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, and
throughout Central Maryland. Recent reports indicate that heroin-fentanyl overdose deaths
have also been seen in Washington State, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and along the I-95
corridor. The location of an overdose death does not necessarily indicate the source of a drug.

 
 
County
 
 
 
Number of Deaths
 
Anne Arundel
4
Baltimore City
10
Baltimore County
5
Calvert
2
Carroll
1
Charles
1
Frederick
2
Howard
2
Prince George’s
5
Queen Anne’s
1
Somerset
1
Washington
2
Wicomico
1
 
 
Total
 
 
 
37
 
 
The State’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Plan is available at maryland.gov


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Extreme Heat often results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards. In most of the United States, extreme heat is defined as a long period (2 to 3 days) of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees. In extreme heat, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to death by overworking the human body. Remember that:

Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning.

Older adults, children, and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.

Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.

IF YOU ARE UNDER AN EXTREME HEAT WARNING:

  • Find air conditioning.
  • Avoid strenuous activities.
  • Watch for heat illness.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Check on family members and neighbors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car.

Learn more tips for staying cool and safe during extreme heat by clicking the image below

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