Fentanyl test strips available as deadly overdoses surge

Wausau Police Department says they’re seeing more overdoses likely related to fentanyl
Fentanyl health crisis responsible for increase in drug overdose deaths
Fentanyl health crisis responsible for increase in drug overdose deaths
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is raising the alarm about the deadly opioid fentanyl. The DHS has issued a public health advisory to inform people about the increase in overdoses related to fentanyl.

“There are two primary factors that make fentanyl especially dangerous. First, it and other synthetic opioids are extremely potent in very, very tiny amounts, even as little as two grains of salt is enough to kill and cause fentanyl poisoning. Second, fentanyl is very hard to detect,” said Dr. Jasmine Zapata, the chief medical officer for the DHS Bureau of Community Health Promotion.

The Wausau Police Department said they frequently see fentanyl circulating in the city.

“We do have an increase of overdoses comparatively from year to year,” said Mason Hagenbucher of the Wausau Police Department.

The police department said there’s a high probability that overdoses are related to fentanyl-laced drugs.

“We do also come across just straight fentanyl, but the most common way is when it’s cut or mixed in with other drugs, such as heroin, medication, or methamphetamine,” said Hagenbucher.

Vivent Health, a national HIV healthcare organization, said they’ve also seen an increase in drugs cut with fentanyl.

“Testing substances for the presence of fentanyl is more important now than ever,” said Ben Bruso, the prevention supervisor for Vivent Health.

The organization offers free fentanyl test strips to combat drug overdoses.

“The strips are used by the person who is using drugs. What they do is they actually, depending on the type of substance they’re using, they test the residue or part of the substance for the presence of fentanyl,” said Bruso.

Bruso adds the strips are similar to pregnancy or COVID tests.

“They don’t tell you how much is in the drug. It doesn’t tell you what type but just allows you to test for the presence of fentanyl,” said Bruso.

The results from the fentanyl tests are ready within minutes.

“And what that does is it essentially gives them an informed decision to make a behavior change in regards to how they’re using,” said Bruso.

Vivent Health said they distributed more than 3,800 fentanyl test strips in 2021. The test strips are free to the public.