Overdose Spike Alert: Increased Risk of Overdose in Dane County


Public Health Madison & Dane County is issuing an Overdose Spike Alert due to recent surge in drug overdoses in our community and reports of unusual symptoms after drug use.

This alert is based on data from hospitals and EMS providers. In the last 48 hours, at least ten people received treatment at local hospitals for suspected opioid overdose in Dane County. This is more overdoses than we usually see in our community.

Over the past week, first responders also treated 7 others who reported a variety of unusual symptoms including drowsiness, nausea, sedation, and weakness after consuming crack cocaine.

“We are monitoring similar incidents reported by health officials in Milwaukee and Chicago linked to a synthetic drug called Medetomidine, a powerful animal tranquilizer. We often see drug traffic patterns in larger neighboring cities eventually affect Madison, so this is something we want our communities to know about,” said Public Health Supervisor Julia Olsen.

First responders, healthcare providers, and people who use drugs and their families should be aware of the increased risk of overdose in our community. Sign up to get email or text alerts about overdose spikes on Public Health’s webpage.

"Even if this alert is only shared with one individual and it saves that one individual's life, this initiative will be considered a success," said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. "Every life matters and every drug overdose death is preventable."

“The County and the City are working together to build focused efforts to prevent and address the troubling increase in overdose deaths in our community,” said Dane County Executive Jamie Kuhn. “Increasing awareness and communication about safer drug use is one of those strategies,” she continued.

If you use drugs or know someone who does:

  • Know the signs of an overdose:
    • Pale, sweaty or clammy skin
    • Lips/fingertips turn blue
    • Slow or irregular breathing: gasping, gurgling, or snoring
    • Difficult or unable to wake
  • Always call 911 if you think someone is overdosing
  • Don’t use street drugs alone; call Never Use Alone at 800-484-3731
  • Check in with your friends/family who use drugs
  • Test all drugs for fentanyl before using
  • Carry Narcan® (naloxone) and be prepared to use multiple doses when  needed
  • Get safer use supplies, like fentanyl test strips and Narcan®, from the Syringe Services Program at Public Health Madison & Dane County: 2705 E. Washington Ave. or 2300 S. Park St. in Madison
  • Contact the Behavioral Health Resource Center of Dane County for treatment and recovery resources: (608) 267-2244
  • Share this alert with others
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