The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed 19 overdose deaths in Wayne County since July could be linked to carfentanil.
The drug is a tranquilizer used to put down elephants.
The Wayne County medical examiner reported the deaths. In each case, the carfentanil was combined with other opioids including heroin.
"The street drug supply is probably more dangerous than usual because of carfentanil," said Dr. Carl Schmidt, Wayne County Chief Medical Examiner. "Purchasing street drugs comes with a risk," he adds. "You may get something other than what you think you bought."
MDHHS is urging all hospitals, local health departments, emergency medical services agencies and first responders to be alert for patients with suspected heroin overdoses who do not respond to naloxone in the usual way.
They should treat unknown chemicals and substances with extreme caution and call the Michigan Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 with any questions.