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article imageSpike in overdose cases in Kentucky city — 52 calls in 32 hours

By Karen Graham     Feb 12, 2017 in Health
Louisville - Hardly a week goes by that someplace in the U.S. records an unusual spike in drug overdoses, and last week was no exception. In a 32-hour period, Louisville, Kentucky saw 52 cases of drug overdoses.
What is really ridiculous is that this last cluster of 52 cases beats the 25 overdose calls received in the same 32-hour time frame the week before last week, and now city officials are trying to figure out if this spike is an aberration or is it a part of a grim new reality?
CNN is reporting that Louisville Metro Emergency Services (MES) responded to 52 calls between midnight Wednesday night and 8:00 a.m. on Friday. MES spokesman Mitchell Burmeister said this was a big jump in the number of calls received during the same time period the week before.
And while a breakdown of the cases was not available, Burmeister says that the majority of the calls were for heroin overdoses, although paramedics also dealt with overdoses of alcohol, prescription medications, and other controlled substances.
No overdose deaths were reported, but one person who had been using heroin died while riding in a car that crashed. The driver of the car had also been using heroin, according to WTVR Richmond.
The Courier-Journal quotes Burmeister as saying there were 695 overdose cases through the first month of 2017, and that is a "33 percent jump from last year." He cites the ready availability of heroin on the streets but adds that it's "the same old same old."
Dr. Robert Couch, the medical director for Emergency Services at Norton Audubon Hospital says that the anti-heroin antidote naloxone was used to resuscitate several of the overdose victims seen in the emergency room, but they developed complications requiring hospitalization.
Dr. Couch also says more doses of naloxone are needed and with more repeat cases being seen, more overdose victims require hospitalization.
"What generally is going on when you see this is someone has introduced a batch of fentanyl in the illicit drug supply that hasn’t been cut sufficiently," said Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. "I’m afraid it's a reality we’re going to see repeated far too often."
Ingram adds that most often in the recent past, overdose spikes in other cities have been related to the addition of fentanyl to batches of heroin and other drugs.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, speaking at a state of the city meeting on February 2 said the city was hiring an additional 150 police officers and adding two new squads of detectives to address crimes involving drugs.
“We’re collaborating with the DEA on overdose death investigations to get heroin dealers off our streets, and forming a task force with other agencies, including the FBI, the DEA, ATF, the US Attorney, Kentucky State Police and the State Attorney General’s Office, to pursue, arrest and prosecute our most violent offenders,” he said.
More about overdose cases, Loiisville Kentucky, 52 in 32 hours, Heroin, fentanyl
 
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