Health unit issues drug poisoning alert for Peterborough area

Click to play video: 'Suspected drug poisonings reach record 78 for Peterborough area in 2023'
Suspected drug poisonings reach record 78 for Peterborough area in 2023
RELATED: Peterborough Public Health is reporting another deadly year for drug poisonings. In 2023, overdoses in our region rose by 32 per cent. Robert Lothian spoke with those on the frontlines about how to change this trend in 2024 – Jan 12, 2024

A spike in drug poisonings has prompted health officials to issue an alert for the Peterborough, Ont., region.

Peterborough Public Health has reported there were five drug poisonings on Wednesday that led to paramedics calls and visits to an emergency department.

The health unit’s jurisdiction includes Peterborough, Peterborough County, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation.

The substance that triggered the overdoses is unknown, the health unit stated.

According to the health unit’s opioids harm data portal, there were four suspected fatal drug overdoses in February 2024 — data for March is not yet available. There were seven suspected drug poisoning deaths in January 2024.

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There were 78 suspected fatal drug poisonings in 2023, 19 more than in 2022. From March 2023 to February 2024, there have been 73 deaths related to drug overdoses — an average of one person dying every five days.

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In February there were 38 drug poisonings that required a visit to an emergency department, up from 31 in January.

From March 2023 to February 2024, there were 429 visits to the emergency department for an overdose with  57 per cent of the visits by men. Fifty-seven per cent of all visits were by people between the age of 25 to 44.

The health unit says 90 per cent of ED visits were to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre with nearly half occurring between 4 p.m. and midnight.

Also in February 2024, there were 35 calls to 911 for a drug overdose, nearly double (19) reported a month earlier.

Nearly 17 per cent of 911 calls over the past year saw paramedics administer naloxone, a drug which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

March data is not yet available for emergency department visits and calls to 911 for drug overdoses.

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