Horse tranquilizer detected in three fatal drug overdoses in Central NY – syracuse.com

Oneida, N.Y. – A tranquilizer commonly used on horses, in combination with other drugs, has been detected in three people who died of overdoses this year, according to Oneida County.

The tranquilizer, xylazine, may have been added to amplify the effects of other drugs, according to a news release from the county. It is often found in combination with opioids, officials said.

“It’s unclear whether people know it’s in their drugs or not as research on its use in street drugs is limited,” the county’s Director of Public Health Dan Gilmore said.

Injecting drugs with xylazine can cause skin lesions and ulcerations, officials said. If a xylazine overdose is suspected, officials said Narcan should be administered and 911 called. While Narcan is not effective against xylazine, it should be administered because xylazine is often mixed with other opioids, they said.

Xylazine can produce significant harmful and unexpected adverse effects including:

• Central nervous system depression, such as blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty moving, slurred speech and fatigue.

• Respiratory depression, such as shallow or stopping breathing.

• Cardiovascular effects, such as low blood pressure and slower heart rate.

The Oneida County Overdose Response Team issued a public health advisory regarding the dangers of xylazine.

Xylazine is a non-opioid sedative, painkiller, and muscle relaxant that mimics the effects of opioids, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The drug has only been approved for use in animals.

The drug goes by the street name “tranq”, “tranq dope” or “sleep cut,” according to the DEA.

Xylazine was identified in over 3,800 reports from 2015 through December 2020, according to a DEA database. Each year, the number of cases has increased with the largest number – 1492 – reported in 2020, according to the DEA.

A 2019 study, published in the journal Injury Preventionfound that since 2010 unintentional overdoses that xylazine was present in have increased 15-fold in Philadelphia.

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