MARIETTA, Ga. - The opioid epidemic could put more than just drug users at risk.
The Marietta Police Department issued what it labeled "a public alert" Monday about the possible risk to everyday people who may come into contact with synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil. The drugs are so powerful, that simply touching them could lead to a life-threatening overdose.
Fentanyl and its derivatives have been blamed for a recent outbreak of overdose cases across the state.
“We're talking about people in general--not necessarily within the drug community--that aren't aware that they could be at risk,” explained Officer Chuck McPhilamy.
The department sent out an advisory to the community warning people to be on alert for drugs and drug residue in places like hotels, rental cars, and even restrooms. They fear that unsuspecting victims could accidentally touch or ingest the drugs. So far, they have not had any reports of that happening.
“We don't want to alarm people, but we also want to educate the public that we're sworn to protect and serve,” said Officer McPhilamy. “If I kept that information to myself and then something happened, how could I sleep at night?”
The Georgia Poison Center issued a similar alert to people who work in the hospitality industry.
“You really have to protect yourself,” explained Dr. Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center. “When you're talking about drugs that could be anywhere from 100 to 1000 times the strength of heroin, a small amount can cause big-time problems.”
Dr. Lopez recommends that staff use gloves when performing their jobs and if they come into contact with any suspicious substance, they should immediately leave the area, wash their hands with soap and water, notify others not to enter the room and dial 911.
Expert staff with the Georgia Poison Center can provide more guidance at 1-800-222-1222.