Emergency workers in Massachusetts had to revive a 10-month-old baby girl twice on Saturday, Dec. 31, after she was exposed to a powerful opioid known as fentanyl, local authorities said.
The Methuen Police Department received a call on Saturday afternoon about a baby not being able to breathe. First responders found the victim and rushed her to the Lawrence General Hospital.
The child had to be revived twice after she had already stopped breathing upon arriving at the hospital. She was later transferred to the Tufts Medical Center in Boston by helicopter so she could receive further treatment. She is now in stable condition.
Michael Quinn, the lawyer of the famly, told reporters that the baby is doing fine and that she could be discharged from the hospital today. The state's Department of Children and Families is monitoring the child's condition.
Hospital tests revealed that the 10-month-old baby had traces of the fentanyl in her system. Public health officials believe the synthetic drug is the culprit behind a series of opioid overdoses in Massachusetts and other nearby states.
"This is an extremely unfortunate situation in which a dangerous drug has ended up in the wrong hands and placed a baby's life in danger," Joseph E. Solomon, chief of the Methuen Police, said. "Our main goal now is to find out how this substance ended up in the child's system."
Officers searched the child's home and found several items of interest. However, they did not reveal whether they found illegal drugs. There have been no arrests made related to the incident.
Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni warned the public that the opioid epidemic has no boundaries. He urged the people to keep children from having access to dangerous substances, and to do everything they can in order to fight drug addiction.
On Monday, Methuen Police were able to seize close to 31 pounds of a fentanyl variant known as "China White" in a different part of the city. The amount of the drug is valued at about $1.2 million.
Opioid Epidemic In The United States
The rise in opioid overdose cases in the United States over the past few years has forced the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue a nationwide advisory on the dangers of drugs such as fentanyl.
Fentanyl is typically prescribed to people who suffer from severe pain. It is considered to be a more potent alternative to morphine. The drug is administered through pill, patch, or injection.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that the number of deaths related to fentanyl and other opioid overdoses has increased by as much as 80 percent from 2013 to 2014. In 2014 alone, as many as 5,500 people lost their lives after overdosing on these drugs.
In November, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported that 1,005 people in the state have died because of opioid overdose in just the first nine months of 2016.
This mirrors the nearly 1,200 confirmed overdose deaths that happened in the state in just the first nine months of 2015.