Health departments report overdose spikes in Dane, Columbia counties

MADISON, Wis. — Health officials in Dane and Columbia counties are warning of a spike in overdoses in the area in recent days.

At least seven people suffered suspected drug overdoses in Madison during a 24-hour period earlier this week, Public Health Madison & Dane County said Wednesday, prompting the agency to warn of potentially counterfeit drugs in the community.

In a news release, PHMDC said the overdoses came during the 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday, according to data from hospitals and EMS providers. The spike is 50% higher than what the community normally sees.

At least two of the overdoses led to deaths, the agency said.

“More than half of the people who experienced an overdose thought they were using oxycodone, meaning there is a possibility of counterfeit pills circulating in the area,” PHMDC said in the release. “Counterfeit pills may contain lethal amounts of fentanyl or methamphetamine and are extremely dangerous because they often appear identical to legitimate prescription pills, and the user is likely unaware of how lethal they can be.”

The agency issued a similar spike alert in March.

The Columbia County Department of Health said Wednesday it too has seen a spike in overdoses. The department said oxycodone appears to be correlated to the spike in Columbia County over the past week.

PHMDC is asking drug users or people who know others who use drugs to know the signs of an overdose, which include pale, sweaty or clammy skin, lips or fingertips turning blue, slow or irregular breathing or being difficult or unable to wake.

In addition, the agency said people should:

  • Always call 911 if you think someone is overdosing
  • Don’t use street drugs alone; call Never Use Alone at 800-484-3731
  • Check in with your friends/family who use drugs
  • Test all drugs for fentanyl before using
  • Carry Narcan® (naloxone) and be prepared to use multiple doses when needed
  • Get safer use supplies, like fentanyl test strips and Narcan®, from the Syringe Services Program at Public Health Madison & Dane County: 2705 E. Washington Ave. or 2300 S. Park St. in Madison
  • Contact the Behavioral Health Resource Center of Dane County for treatment and recovery resources: (608) 267-2244
  • Share this alert with others

For more information, click here.

In Columbia County, Narcan is available at no cost at the health department’s office. For more information, visit the office or call 608-742-9751. Vivent Health can provide fentanyl test strips; call 608-332-6169 to learn more.

Other resources include the Columbia County Medication Assisted Treatment Program and The Harbor Recovery Center.