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The original item was published from 3/8/2018 4:14:00 PM to 5/8/2018 12:05:01 AM.

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Posted on: March 8, 2018

[ARCHIVED] Recent spate of suspected drug-related deaths raises concerns in Medical Examiner's Office

Medical Examiner's Office

The Kenosha County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Kenosha County Division of Health are issuing a warning about opioid and opiate use after a string of four suspected overdose deaths in Kenosha County in the last five days.

In 2017, Kenosha County had 57 confirmed deaths due to toxicity with three cases still pending. This is an increase from the 54 deaths in 2016.

Notably, 22 of last year’s deaths involved fentanyl, whereas in 2016 only six deaths involved fentanyl or a fentanyl analog. In 2018, there are already three confirmed toxicity deaths, and with these recent deaths there are 21 cases pending results.

“Overdose deaths have been a concern for a long time, but this recent number of them in a short amount of time is particularly alarming for a community of our size,” said Kenosha County Medical Examiner Patrice Hall. “Lake County, Illinois, is four times as large as Kenosha County but had just 24 more toxicity deaths than we did in 2017.”

Fentanyl is not only being mixed in with heroin, but also cocaine and marijuana, Hall said. “There is no way to know if fentanyl has been added to any illicit drugs or substances,” the medical examiner cautioned.

The recent deaths are awaiting confirmatory toxicology results, with final results expected in three to four months. Most of these pending cases involve the suspected use of opioids/opiates. Opioid drugs include Percocet, Vicodin, oxycodone and fentanyl, while opiates include heroin, morphine and codeine.

“We aim to save lives through prevention and safety measures,” said Cynthia Johnson, director of the Kenosha County Division of Health. “There are many resources available for those struggling with drug addiction, and for the people around them. We urge people to explore those options.”

Further information about prevention, treatment, and resources are listed below:


  • Narcan is an emergency medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 
  • It is available after receiving a free training at the Kenosha County Division of Health for people 18 and older. Community trainings are held at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Thursday of the month at the Kenosha County Job Center. Call 262-605-6741 or email to sign up for a training. 
  • The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin also provides trainings. Call 262-657-6644 for more information.


  • Use the acronym BLUE:
  • B (Breathing): The person is not breathing or breathing very slowly. They may be snoring or their breathing sounds like they are gurgling.
  • L (Lips): Lips and finger tips are turning blue.
  • U (Unresponsive): No response when you yell the person’s name or rub the middle of their chest hard.
  • E (Eyes): Center part of their eye is very small, also called “pinpoint pupil.”
  • IF AN OVERDOSE IS SUSPECTED, GIVE NARCAN (if available) AND CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY. You or someone you know will require follow-up medical attention.


  • Recovery is possible!
  • The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource Center can help you find treatment and services that are right for you such as counseling, medication assisted treatment, or a 12-step program. Call 262-657-7188 for more information.
  • Narcotics Anonymous at 262-653-9800
  • Heroin Anonymous/Southport Recovery Club at 262-552-6879
  • Comprehensive Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program at 262-654-1004
  • Recovery Coaches at 262-652-9830 or 262-658-8166
  • Resource packets that include information sheets and pamphlets about opioids and related community agencies and programs may be picked up at the Division of Health, 8600 Sheridan Road, Kenosha.
  • The “A Way Out” program at local police departments in Lake County, Ill., is available to anyone with private insurance, regardless of their residency. This program fast-tracks drug users to substance abuse programs and services. More information is available at 


  • LOCK-UP YOUR MEDICATIONS: Keep track of quantity by regularly counting your tablets, in order to make sure they are being used as prescribed, and not misused.  
  • The Kenosha County Division of Health provides medication lockboxes, free of charge, to all members of the community who feel they could benefit from having them in their home. Call 262-605-6700 for more information.
    Kenosha County has six medication drop boxes located at all the police departments. Visit to find the nearest location and collection hours.
  • April 28 – Medication Take Back day – look for events
  • DO NOT SHARE your medications. Use only as prescribed.
  • When pain control is needed, ask your medical provider, dentist, or veterinarian if an alternative treatment or medication is available.

For more information, please call the Kenosha County Division of Health at 262-605-6700 or visit

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