Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Five ODs in a day

By Kate Bouey - CASTANET Aug 31, 2016 / 3:34 pm
At least five people were taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital suffering from illicit drug overdoses Tuesday and there is concern they are linked to the same drug used in recent overdoses in Kamloops – where an overdose alert has been issued following a fatality. “There were five cases of overdoses in one day,” confirmed Dr. Silvina Mema, of Interior Health. “That is a lot compared to what we usually get from Vernon which is five per week.” All were treated with naloxone, an antidote which counters the effects of an overdose, before being released, said the medical health officer. “A surveillance system was put in place on June 1 so overdoses are reported to the medical health officer. The system is beginning to show its usefulness," said Mema. Mema said the shocking number of overdoses in a day raises concern there may be a drug circulating in the Vernon area that has effects not usually seen in a user. “It is not what the user thinks it is,” she said, adding that medical staff did not know if the drug users thought they were taking fentanyl, morphine or heroin. More than half of the drug overdose deaths in B.C. are linked to fentanyl, with other drugs often laced with the powerful opioid. The Kamloops area also reported five overdoses within the last 48 hours, with one fatality, said Mema. In those cases, the users were together and described using a “sparkly, white powder,” she said.
An IH press release stated the powder may be being sold as cocaine on the street. Mema said there is some concern the Vernon cases could be linked to the same drug, due to the timing of the ODs. Mema urges illicit drug users to have a naloxone kit nearby when using, to recognize the signs of an overdose and to call 911. Users can obtain naloxone kits from the Vernon Health Unit at 1440 14th Avenue or Vernon Downtown Primary Care at 3306a 32nd St., she said.

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