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Alberta Deadly opioid carfentanil linked to 15 deaths in Alberta

In this June 27, 2016 photo provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a member of the RCMP opens a printer ink bottle containing the opioid carfentanil imported from China, in Vancouver.

RCMP/AP

Alberta's top health officials say carfentanil has been linked to 15 drug overdose deaths in the last few months.

Fourteen of those 15 occurred between September and the end of November.

Dr. Karen Grimsrud, chief medical officer of health, says it's possible those who died weren't aware they were taking the deadly opioid.

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She says Albertans need to know that carfentanil is in cities and towns in the province and that even the smallest trace can kill.

The Alberta Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is one of only a very small number of toxicology laboratories in Canada that is able to positively identify carfentanil in human blood.

Officials say if people are using opioids, they should not be alone and ensure they are near someone that can call for help if needed.

Health officials also say not to mix opioids with other drugs or alcohol and if you suspect someone is overdosing, call 911 right away.

Also carry a naloxone kit and know how to use it.

Make sure anyone you are taking drugs with also knows how to use it to save yours.

Naloxone is a temporary fix and you still need to call 911.

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Publicly funded take-home naloxone kits are available at more than 900 registered sites, including community pharmacies.

The province has invested $3 million over the next three years for an opioid dependency treatment (ODT) expansion project. Work is underway to increase access to opioid replacement therapy in Alberta Health Services clinics.

Legislation comes into effect in January to regulate pill presses to enhance enforcement for illicit fentanyl manufacturing.

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