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Public alert issued after cocaine laced with acetylfentanyl suspected in death of 2 in King County

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SEATTLE -- Public Health - Seattle & King County issued a public alert Friday night, saying  the deaths of two women this week may be related to a batch of cocaine laced with acetylfentanyl, a potentially deadly synthetic drug. It warned people to avoid cocaine in case it is contaminated.

“Cocaine users need to be aware that acetylfentanyl-laced cocaine can kill quickly when snorted or injected.  There is no way to know whether cocaine is laced with acetylfentanyl, so the best prevention is to avoid use of cocaine altogether,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

The department said the King County Medical Examiner's Office conducted autopsies on two women who apparently died from cocaine that may have been contaminated with acetyylfentanyl.

"The findings are preliminary, but Public Health officials are concerned enough to issue a public alert about the overdose danger even before the confirmatory tests are conducted," the department's new release said.

The department said Acetylfentanyl is not the same as the more commonly known fentanyl. Acetylfentanyl is five times or more stronger than heroin and stronger than prescription fentanyl, it said.

"The two people who died inhaled (snorted) and did not inject the cocaine," the department said. "Health officials suspect that the two women were exposed to the same batch of drug and that these deaths do not represent two separate incidents. ... Health officials are trying to learn where the drug may have been acquired and if other drugs may have played a role."