Despite stepped up public awareness efforts by health officials in Oneida County, the number of fatal drug overdoses is continuing to rise.

It has prompted a Public Health Advisory with seven overdose deaths over the last 30 days in the county along - with deaths in Boonville, Sauquoit, Utica and Whitesboro - according to the county's OD Response Team.

Getty Images
Getty Images


Preliminary information shows the victims had ingested one of three illegal street drugs - cocaine, heroin and/or methamphetamine - at that the substances had been laced with fentanyl, linked to the nation's ongoing crisis, officials said. Year-to-date in Oneida County alone there have been 17 such deaths.

However, the county's health warning extends beyond fentanyl, with health officials also cautioning that local drugs are also being tainted with xylazine - a powerful animal sedative that compounds the effects of opioids and increase the risk that users will overdose, health officials explained in Friday's advisory.

Of the 17 drug OD fatalities thus far, health officials have linked two (2) to xylazine and two (2) to fentanyl, with toxicology testing pending in the remaining cases, officials said.

“We encourage individuals, families, response partners and service providers in all settings, to share this information; look out of for those who may be especially vulnerable and take actions right now to help mitigate the rise in overdose deaths," Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said.

James Rondenelli
James Rondenelli

Oneida County's Overdose Response Team is again reminding local residents that county provides free kits of naloxone (Narcan), which can immediately reverse the effects of a drug overdose.

Additionally, officials offer what are called harm reduction strategies, including having fentanyl test strips which alert a user if drugs they have are contaminated with the deadly substance. The county provides information on where test strips are available, and advise never using drugs alone.

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