From January to June, Akron paramedics responded to about 320 drug overdose calls.
In the three weeks between July 5 and July 26, paramedics logged 236.
The dramatic spike, from two or fewer per day to 11 or more, is thought to be the result of the introduction of carfentanil to the Akron drug market. The heroin-like drug is so potent it’s used to sedate elephants in zoos.
So far this year, 63 people have died of drug overdoses in Akron. Twenty of the deaths can be attributed to the ongoing spike.
Dr. Kimberly Cook, director of animal health and conservation at the Akron Zoo, said carfentanil is an ultra potent opioid that is used an anesthetic for very large animals such as elephants or hoof stock. She also said it's 100 times stronger than fentanyl.
Cook explained veterinarians who use the drug must take strict precautions.
"It's an incredibly dangerous drug," Cook said. "We're concerned that even a drop could get in an eye so we wear eye protection. We wear long sleeves. We wear gloves."
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