MMWR News Synopsis for August 31, 2017

Deaths Involving Heroin and Synthetic Opioids Excluding Methadone, by U.S. Census Region — United States, 2006–2015

CDC Media Relations

Three interconnected trends drove increases in deaths involving heroin and synthetic opioids in the United States during 2006–2015: increases in the heroin supply, mixing of fentanyl into the heroin supply, and increases in deaths involving synthetic opioids without heroin. Increases in opioid overdose deaths are associated with illicit drug supply changes, including the addition of fentanyl to heroin supplies. Death rates involving heroin or synthetic opioids excluding methadone (proxy for fentanyl) and rates of heroin and fentanyl drug products obtained by law enforcement were stratified by U.S. Census region for 2006–2015. Heroin death and drug product rates increased across regions, especially after 2010. Rapid increases in fentanyl drug product rates in the Northeast, Midwest, and South coincided with increases in synthetic opioid death rates with and without heroin starting in 2013. Overdoses involving both heroin and synthetic opioids primarily drove increases in heroin deaths in the Northeast and Midwest during 2013–2015. Targeting timely response efforts requires rapid surveillance of illicit opioid products and deaths.

Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analogue Outbreak — Ohio, January–February 2017

Heather Maurer
Marketing Communications Manager
Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
Office: (937) 245-7629

Fentanyl/fentanyl analogues are the key contributors to the unintentional drug-related overdose mortality in 24 Ohio counties. This NIH-funded study, conducted by the Wright State University and the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office/Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab, analyzed 281 unintentional overdose fatalities that occurred in 24 Ohio counties in January –February, 2017, to identify fentanyl, fentanyl analogues/metabolites (IMFs) and other drugs. Out of all cases, only 6 percent tested positive for heroin, and over 90 percent tested positive fentanyl and fentanyl analogues/metabolites. Almost 50 percent of decedents tested positive for acryl fentanyl, 30 percent for furanyl fentanyl, and 8 percent for carfentanil. Fentanyl is commonly appearing in combination with other analogues, which makes the effects of these drugs more unpredictable and dangerous.

Awareness, Beliefs, and Actions Concerning Zika Virus Among Pregnant Women and Community Members — U.S. Virgin Islands, November–December 2016

CDC Media Relations

Building in a rapid assessment during an outbreak response offers essential information to local public health authorities about their interventions. This feedback can improve communication and intervention strategies that inform and protect people. From November 15 to December 9, 2016, as part of a collaboration with the CDC, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health conducted interviews with 269 pregnant women and community members living in the U.S.V.I. to assess awareness, beliefs, and actions related to Zika virus and local prevention and control efforts. Most respondents said they believed Zika to be a serious health concern but many were not aware of how Zika is or spread. Information collected enabled program planners to tailor efforts to address needs related to mosquito control, and also provided feedback about how messages were being received, perceived, and acted upon. Recognizing prevention program strengths and deficiencies allowed program planners to reframe and refocus messaging to educate the public about Zika transmission and emphasize protective actions.

Notes from the Field:

  • Fatal Yellow Fever in a Traveler Returning From Peru — New York, 2016
  • Lead Poisoning in an Infant Associated with a Metal Bracelet — Connecticut, 2016

Quick Stats:

  • Percentage of Children and Adolescents Aged 6–17 Years Who Wore Glasses or Contact Lenses, by Sex and Age Group — National Health Interview Survey, 2016



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Page last reviewed: August 31, 2017