Health notice sent after recent overdoses

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office released a public health notice on Jan. 28 after 10 heroin overdoses were reported in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and Maryland.

According to the notice, two fatal overdoses in Frederick County and one in Clarke County were reported between Jan. 27 and Jan. 28. The victims’ names have not been released.

Seven nonfatal overdoses in two hours were also reported in Carroll County, Md., on Jan. 27, the notice said.

According to RUSH Drug Task Force Coordinator Josiah Schiavone, investigators are trying to determine whether the Virginia overdoses are related, and whether the heroin used in Maryland and Virginia came from the same batch.

“It’s very odd to have three deaths in 24 hours,” he said.

Carroll County is west of Baltimore and 110 miles from Shenandoah County.

The heroin used in all 10 overdoses may have contained the opioid Fentanyl or a similar narcotic called Carfentanil, Schiavone said. Test results on the drugs should be ready by Friday, he said.

“It could be a person cutting it with something else, or it could just be really pure,” he said. “Right now, what we’re finding is that there’s a batch of bad heroin out there and we want to get it off the streets.”

Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin alone, while Carfentanil is 100 times more potent than Fentanyl, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

While the public notice applies to the Northern Valley, the region’s southern half has not been spared from the effects of heroin use so far this year.

Harrisonburg resident Kristine Smith, 31, died at Sentara RMH Medical Center after suffering a heroin overdose at an acquaintance’s house on Jan. 20, according to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.

The next night, a 44-year-old Waynesboro woman died and a 36-year-old man was taken to Augusta Health due to drug overdoses. Waynesboro police later reported that the man had died on Jan. 24.

Officers believe that the pair had injected themselves with either Fentanyl or Carfentanil.

Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said Tuesday that he does not know of plans to release a health notice in the southern Valley, but that his office will continue to enforce drug laws and educate people on the dangers of using drugs.

“It’s something that has been more frequent in this area and it’s not what we want to see,” he said.

On Jan. 14, Shenandoah County authorities responded to three drug overdoses. Two of them involved heroin, including one that killed a Strasburg man.

The cause of the third overdose has not been revealed.

According to a press release from the Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition, five fatal and 11 nonfatal heroin overdoses have been reported in the Northern Valley since Jan. 1, up from three nonfatal overdoses and no deaths during January 2016.

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