CINCINNATI — Hospital emergency workers in a southwest county have handled an average of nearly 15 overdoses a day since a powerful drug used to sedate elephants was found in heroin in the area about two months ago.

The 1,004 overdoses indicate the area has seen a massive infusion of heroin, Hamilton County Commissioner Dennis Deters told The Cincinnati Enquirer ( ). The overdose count released to the newspaper Thursday includes emergency room information from July 15 to Sept. 21.

“This highlights the magnitude of the drug problem we’re facing in Hamilton County,” county Health Commissioner Tim Ingram said. “The disease of addiction is serious and can be deadly. We need to follow up on this data with opportunities to get people into medically assisted treatment to end the addiction cycle and reduce the number of overdose incidents we’re seeing.”

The numbers include 174 overdoses that occurred over a six-day period last month, primarily on Cincinnati’s west side. Overdose runs per day have dropped since then but continue on a pace far above what they were before mid-July.

Before July 15, Hamilton County had from 20 to 25 overdoses cases a week, but now that number can represent the daily overdose run count, said Newtown police Chief Tom Synan, who heads the law enforcement task force within the county heroin coalition.

The coalition uses information on overdoses, combined with indications from first responders in the county, to decide when to put out alerts and mobilize for an influx of overdoses.

The count includes possible overdoses and all overdoses, not just opioid-related ones.

Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer,

VIAThe Associated Press
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.