PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The director of the Allegheny County Health Department gave the health department board a report on recent heroin deaths and the report was cautiously optimistic.
There have not been recent overdoses tied to a deadly heroin mixture, but that does not mean the drug is not still on the street.
“We were working on this very intensively for a week and at the end of that week there was much less activity going on,” says Dr. Karen Hacker.
It was a week in January that saw 17 heroin-related deaths in Allegheny County alone.
In time, more than 20 deaths in western Pennsylvania were attributed to the deadly combination of Fentanyl and heroin that brought to mind the China White deaths in the late 1980s.
And the local statistics proved it wasn’t just an inner city problem.
Of the 23 deaths the Allegheny County medical examiner reviewed as of Jan. 29, 12 were from the city, eight from the county. Of that, 21 white victims and two black victims.
Some drugs were packaged under the name “Theraflu.”
But by the time agents of the Pennsylvania Attorney General pursued their own investigation, arrests were being made for distribution of heroin packaged under other names like “Sky High.”
Eventually law enforcement, emergency medical services, drug awareness activists and treatment providers coordinated efforts to first to alert the community and then to find where it’s coming from.
Bottom line so far: things have calmed down for now.
“It appears to have abated for now. Overdose activity has decreased substantially in February. Does not mean its gone away unfortunately and I think we still need to be alert,” she said. “These kinds of things can happen at any point in time and our ability to monitor it unfortunately in this case was by the number of deaths.”
Anyone with information about the heroin cases is asked to call your local law enforcement agency.
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