First carfentanil death reported in Wisconsin

First carfentanil death reported in Wisconsin

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office says a highly potent opioid has killed a man in Milwaukee — the first death attributed to carfentanil in Wisconsin.

Experts say the drug is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, which itself is 50 times more potent than heroin. Carfentanil is used to tranquilize large animals. Forty-eight-year-old James Kinnee was found dead March 22 at the home of a construction co-worker after ingesting the drug.

The medical examiner’s forensic director, Sara Schreiber, says carfentanil cases across the country are linked to heroin. And, a user may not be aware it’s been added to heroin, so its potency is unknown.

“It’s here in Milwaukee County,” Sara Schreiber, from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office said. “If it’s here in Milwaukee County it’s likely in other places in the state of Wisconsin or will be very soon.”

Madison and Middleton officials said they haven’t been able to confirm the use of carfentanil in our area.

Steve Wunsch the Middleton EMS chief said he knows more potent drugs are in circulation because he and his team are using higher doses of naloxone to counteract overdoses.

“So the result is we kind of have to keep up with that, knowing full-well it’s a moving target,” Wunsch said.

The situation is also becoming more dangerous for first responders. If carfentanil is inhaled or absorbed in the skin it can be fatal.