(Newser) Chicago authorities are scrambling after 74 heroin overdoses were reported in the 72 hours between Tuesday and Friday afternoon, more than double the overdose rate during the same time last year, NBC Chicago reports. Police suspect an "extremely strong batch of heroin" that's been laced the powerful painkiller fentanyl. They are currently hunting for the source of the drug, which appears to have been sold at two locations on the city's West Side.
"We suspect what is happening is the same thing that happened in 2006," Mount Sinai emergency room director Diane Hincks tells the Chicago Tribune.
Between 2005 and 2007, more than 1,000 people around the country died from fentanyl-laced heroin.
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The Tribune reports there have been no deaths during the rash of overdoses this week that can be definitively traced to heroin laced with fentanyl, though authorities are waiting on toxicology reports from a 49-year-old man who died of an apparent overdose Thursday. Hospitals are supplying paramedics with extra doses of Narcan, a heroin antidote, due to the strength of the current batch.
"They're taking double and triple the doses of Narcan in order to bring them out of their stupor," Hincks tells the Tribune. The DEA issued a nationwide warning about fentanyl-laced heroin in March. A recent study show Chicago has more heroin-related ER visits than any other U.S. city.