McHenry Township Fire Protection District | LMCS File Photo

Authorities are warning the public after a “significant increase” in suspected overdose deaths was reported over the past month in McHenry County.

The McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) said Friday the deaths occurred over a four-week period between May 12 and June 9.

The McHenry County Coroner’s Office data showed there were two and a half times more overdoses during the time period compared to the preceding four weeks.

The increase in suspected fatal overdoses overlaps the time frame where there was also an increase in non-fatal opioid overdoses the health department identified earlier this month.

Health officials say the deaths have not been confirmed as opioid-related yet but most overdose deaths in McHenry County are caused by opioids, most often fentanyl.

“The MCDH is committed to protecting identities, which is why the exact number of deaths is not being shared,” the department said.

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Health officials say fentanyl is becoming more common in illicit drugs, even laced with other drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine, or pressed into counterfeit prescription drugs.

“It is one of the most lethal forms of opioids. MCDH and its partners want everyone to remain safe, and ensure they have the supplies they need,” the health department said.

Fentanyl test strips, which can be used to detect fentanyl in all types of drugs, can help prevent an overdose, while naloxone, also referred to as Narcan, can help reverse an overdose.

Fentanyl test strips and Narcan are available for free from the health department at their Crystal Lake and Woodstock offices. Those interested can call 815-334-4500.