Fentanyl deaths increase in Clark County
The Southern Nevada Health District issues an advisory to raise awareness of the public health risks of fentanyl
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 17, 2021
LAS VEGAS –During a 24-hour period on August 12, 2021, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reported five suspected fentanyl-related overdose deaths occurred in Clark County, and the Southern Nevada Health District is alerting the public about the ongoing risk in the community. Between January and May, there were 92 deaths among Clark County residents, a 39 percent increase over the same period in 2020 with 66 deaths. In 2020, there were a total of 193 fentanyl deaths; 72 deaths were reported in 2019.
“It is important that Southern Nevadans are aware of the continued public health risk that fentanyl poses in our community,” said Dr. Fermin Leguen, District Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District. “We continue to see the toll fentanyl takes. It can be fatal and it can be found in other drugs as well.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic (man-made) opioid drug that is highly potent (80-100 times stronger than morphine) and often illicitly manufactured. Deaths involving illicit fentanyl have been increasing. Fentanyl can be mixed with illicit substances (often unknowingly) to look like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine. More commonly, fentanyl is being pressed into counterfeit pills and sold on the street as Percocet, Xanax, or Oxycodone, which is contributing factor in the increase of fatal overdose.
Since 2018, 412 Clark County residents died from fentanyl. Of these, 67 percent were male. Racial breakdowns were as follows: 52 percent White; 16 percent Black; 2 percent Asian; and 25 percent Hispanic/Latino. Other drugs are often involved in overdoses, with the most common being prescription opioids (27 percent), benzodiazepines (26 percent), psychostimulants such as methamphetamine (25 percent), cocaine (18 percent), and heroin (6 percent). These proportions are not mutually exclusive as more than one drug can contribute to a death.
The Health District and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend people who are at risk of opioid overdose as well as family members, friends or other individuals who can assist a person at risk should carry naloxone, also known as Narcan®, an opioid-antagonist that can be administered to help reverse opioid overdoses.
“We have a tool at hand to help prevent opioid or fentanyl overdoses. Naloxone can help save a life,” said Leguen.
The Health District’s main public health center offers free naloxone at its pharmacy at 280 S. Decatur Blvd. Other naloxone access points can be found at Nevada State Opioid Response Naloxone Finder. Additional overdose prevention measures and training are available to the community through local harm reduction organizations, including Health District partner organization Trac-B Exchange.
The Southern Nevada Health District serves as the local public health authority for Clark County, Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mesquite and North Las Vegas. The agency safeguards the public health of the community’s residents and visitors through innovative programs, regulations, and initiatives focused on protecting and promoting their health and well-being. More information about the Health District, its programs, services, and the regulatory oversight it provides is available at www.SNHD.info.