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Louisville, Kentucky reported 52 overdose calls in 32 hours

By Allen Cone
Louisville, Kentucky reported 52 overdose calls in 32 hours
Louisville's Metro Emergency Services handled 52 overdose calls over 32 hours last week. An average of 22 cases a day normally are handled in Jefferson County, which includes Louisville. Photo by Angelo Gilardelli/Shutterstock

Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Louisville, Ky., officials are assessing what caused a spike in drug overdose calls last week -- 52 in 32 hours.

The city's Metro Emergency Services handled the calls from midnight Wednesday through 8 a.m. Friday. An average of 22 cases a day are handled in Jefferson County, which includes Louisville.

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The calls last week came from more than 20 ZIP codes with 34 patients transported to a hospital.

"There's no part of town that it affects more than any other," Mitchell Burmeister, spokesman for Metro Emergency Services told WLKY-TV. "It truly is an unfortunate situation that is affecting our entire community. People are unfortunately exposed to it, no matter who you are or where you are."

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No overdose deaths were reported, but one person on heroin died while riding in a car that crashed. The driver also was using heroin.

"When we say overdoses, we usually mean heroin, but that included alcohol, prescription medications, etc.," Burmeister told The Courier-Journal.

Metro Emergency Services reported 695 cases in January, an increase of 33 percent from last year.

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At Norton Audubon Hospital, doctors used the anti-heroin antidote naloxone to resuscitate their patients, said Dr. Robert Couch, medical director for emergency services.

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"What generally is going on when you see this is someone has introduced a batch of fentanyl in the illicit drug supply that hasn't been cut sufficiently," Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, told the Courier-Journal. "I'm afraid it's a reality we're going to see repeated far too often."

Louisville authorities say it's too early to tell if fentanyl-laced heroin caused the overdoses. Fentanyl is pain reliever often given to cancer patients

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"Heroin addiction is hard to overcome but there are agencies that can help you get clean," Burmeister said.

High overdoses recently have been reported across the border in Ohio.

In Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, at least 14 people died of opioid overdoses over one weekend this month, WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported.

And in Montgomery County, Ohio, which includes Dayton, 60 percent of the autopsies in January were overdose related, coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger told CNN.

Last August, 26 overdoses were reported within a four-hour period in Huntington, W.Va.

Nationwide, drug overdose deaths increased 23 percent between 2010 and 2014, with more than 47,000 Americans dying in 2014, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released in December.

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