King County WA warns of rise in heroin deaths

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SEATTLE (AP) -- King County health officials have alerted the public to what they call an unusual increase in heroin overdose deaths, possibly because of increased potency or a mixture with other substances.

Public Health officials said Tuesday there have been seven likely overdose deaths from heroin in the county since Saturday. By comparison, there were 32 heroin-overdose deaths in the first six months of 2011 in King County.

The county medical examiner's office says the deaths occurred across the county, among people of varying ages and among both experienced and inexperienced users.

While health officials try to analyze the heroin and identify possible reasons for the death increase, they caution heroin users to not inject when alone, use less if the heroin source is new or if it looks different and avoid mixing heroin with other drugs or stimulants.