1 dead, 12 hospitalized in suspected mass fentanyl overdose in California

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- One person was dead and another 12 taken to hospital in a mass overdose case in Chico, a Northern California city, local media reported Sunday, saying the drug that victims took could be a form of fentanyl mixed with another unknown substance.

According to ABC 7 news channel updated Sunday morning, the mass overdose incident was reported to authorities around 9 am on Saturday, then police arrived at the scene and found one adult male dead and 4 others were in critical condition at a home in the city, 820 kilometers north of Los Angeles.

Police said there were 13 victims aged from 19 to 30, but did not provide information about exact relationships between them and the homeowner or details of the dead person.

Two police officers, the first to appear on the scene, were also taken to the hospital after reporting symptoms. They were treated and released, police said.

Chic Police Chief Mike O'Brien stressed at a press conference that if local police did not dispense 6 doses of Naloxone in time, a drug which can reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose, "certainly there's potential for additional fatalities."

Chico police officers only began carrying Naloxone last year, O'Brien said, adding "everything was consistent" with a fentanyl overdose, but testing was still being done.

"We do respond to many, many overdoses and particularly with the opioid crisis that is occurring everywhere in this country, to include Chico, California, we want to have in the hands of officers, who are often the first to arrive on scene, the ability to administer a life-saving drug," he said.

The opioid epidemic has spread across the United States in recent years, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control last December, fentanyl was the leading cause of overdose deaths in the country for 2016, the most recent year when numbers were released.

ABC 7 said there were 4.9 opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 people in California in 2016, well below the national average of 13.3 per 100,000. The states with the highest overdose rates are mostly in the eastern U.S., including West Virginia, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

To deal with the fentanyl overdose problem, the U.S. and China leaders agreed at the working dinner after the conclusion of the 13th Group of 20 summit in Argentina last year to take proactive steps to strengthen cooperation on law enforcement and combating illicit drugs, including the synthetic drug fentanyl.

The measures adopted in this respect by China so far have been applauded by the international community including the United States. China has decided to list all the fentanyl-like substances as controlled substances and start working to adjust related regulations. Enditem

[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]


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