File Photo – Woodstock Fire/Rescue District | Photo: WFRD

The health department is warning the public about overdose deaths in McHenry County as officials have identified double the number of deaths this year compared to the same time in prior years.

The McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) announced Tuesday there has been a continued increase in deaths, suspected from overdoses, in the county.

The current number of suspected overdose deaths to date in 2024 is approximately twice as high as the median number from 2020 to 2023 during the same timeframe.

There has also been an increase in EMS encounters where naloxone was used to treat an opioid overdose.

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.

Fentanyl, which is highly lethal, is still being discovered in different illicit drugs across the county.

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The health department said fentanyl is often found in counterfeit pills, even those sold as “legitimate prescription medications” obtained unlawfully.

Last month, the health department issued another warning about seeing an increase in overdose deaths in the county.

“MCDH and its partners want everyone to remain safe and ensure they have the supplies they need,” the department said.

Fentanyl test strips, which can be used to detect fentanyl in all types of drugs, can help prevent an overdose.

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.

Supplies are also available for free at MCDH Narcan vending machines located at The Other Side Café and Sober Bar in Crystal Lake, McHenry County College cafeteria in Crystal Lake, Community Health Partnership in Harvard and Family Center of McHenry County in McHenry.

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