Deadly new drug claims its first life in Whatcom County

Xylazine, identified on the road as “tranq,” is a strong animal tranquilizer.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The primary identified overdose loss of life in Whatcom County linked to a strong animal tranquilizer was reported earlier this month.

Whatcom County well being officers have been anticipating this for the previous few years as Xylazine, often known as “Tranq,” made its manner up the Interstate 5 hall.

Xylazine is commonly blended with fentanyl and different harmful medicine, like meth.

“Sadly, persons are playing with their lives each time they’re doing this,” stated Dr. Allison Hunt, the county’s medical expert.

Police in Lynnwood put out a warning final yr once they began seeing the drug make its manner up the I-5 hall.

“Seattle had a few deaths. We simply knew it was coming,” stated Hunt.

Tranq first took maintain in Philadelphia and has now made its manner all the best way to Whatcom. What makes it so regarding is that, not like fentanyl, an overdose can’t be reversed with Narcan. It additionally causes sores on customers’ pores and skin that rot flesh – usually resulting in limbs being amputated.

“Hospitals are seeing very intensive wounds that want surgical procedure,” stated Hunt. “Typically they even require amputation. So, it is a stress not simply on the individual however on the well being care system.

“It’s extremely regarding,” added Dr. Greg Thompson, co-health officer for the Whatcom County Well being Division. “We all know fentanyl has already been inflicting a disaster when it comes to overdose deaths and Xylazine simply makes that worse.”

Overdose deaths in Whatcom County had been up 43% final yr. A minimum of 130 died, principally from fentanyl. Now, the county has another factor to fret about.

“The transition from heroin to fentanyl was a compete sport changer,” stated Thompson. “I do not assume Xylazine is a sport changer but it surely does make issues worse.”

There’s a bit of excellent information. Well being officers say overdose deaths in Whatcom County are trending down this yr. There have been 21 to this point in 2024 in comparison with 31 on the identical time final yr.

“We do not know if that could be a blip or a pattern,” stated Dr. Thompson, “but it surely’s encouraging.”

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