Miami, FL – The first case of a fentanyl overdose caused by a mosquito bite was recently reported by the Miami Police Department, and local authorities are raising awareness of this potential new threat.
“I was handcuffing a suspect and saw the mosquito go straight from his arm to mine, MPD officer Corporal Chad Blaze explained. “I immediately overdosed, and I kept overdosing all the way to the hospital where I received care and was discharged home after an hour. The crisis was over, but I think on some level I’ll always be overdosing on some level…at least a little bit…on the inside.”
Corporal Blaze was saved by the quick action of the very man he was in the process of detaining for suspiciously waiting for a bus. Wince Jenkins, a Miami bartender who has been battling an addiction to painkillers since an unfortunate alligator attack in 2019, recognized the telltale signs of a fentanyl overdose and called for help. “That cop started breathing real fast and talking about how he has kids and how he didn’t want to die in the street like an alligator. I yelled for his partner and she called for an ambulance. They both looked really scared.”
Fentanyl, a synthetic version of drugs like morphine, codeine, and super codeine, is much stronger than naturally occurring narcotics. Some medical experts, like police toxicologist Mort Fishman, aren’t surprised by this case of a mosquito-borne fentanyl overdose. “This stuff is potent. It’s like heroin on crack, and then on steroids. And if my certificate of participation from the third best toxicology academy in Tampa means anything, anything at all, this won’t be the last time it happens around here.”
Several high profile cases of police officers requiring treatment with an opioid reversal agent have been reported across the country in recent years, with most not even being caused by mosquitoes. According to Corporal Blaze, the close physical contact required in policing is a major risk factor for developing an overdose when an officer is worried that fentanyl has touched their skin. “And you know it is happening more than what you see in the news. That’s why I can’t wait until I get my pump.”
The “pump” Blaze is referring to will likely be a game changer when it comes to fentanyl overdoses in the line of duty. Researchers at the American multinational biopharmaceutical company Emergent BioSolutions Inc. are close to the successful development of a wearable pump for the continuous infusion of naloxone, a lifesaving drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“Our initial target demographics are police officers and other first responders,” Emergent BioSolutions Inc. CEO Robert Kramer Sr. explained. “Essentially anyone at high risk of being really worried about coming into contact with fentanyl. But in light of recent news reports, we are considering expanding this to anyone who might also live near a mosquito.”
Not all experts are fully on board with the naloxone pump. Fishman and other police toxicologists are raising concerns over the possibility of officers having a false sense of security. “I want our boys in blue to feel safe when they’re protecting us from the evils of the world, like when fentanyl that looks like glitter is being used on kindergarten birthday party invitations or when black people are picking up their kids from soccer practice. I just don’t want them getting reckless because they feel invincible. Qualified immunity only works when they are violating Fourth Amendments rights, not when they are overdosing on fentanyl!”
Fishman believes that prevention is key to keeping officers and other first responders safe. That’s why he recommends all patrol cars carry and use a Fentascan portable fentanyl security system. “When it comes to this stuff, you just can’t be too safe. It’s everywhere and in everything. And it’s patient. It will wait until you make a mistake.”
An injection of reality
Yes, I did some fentanyl fear satire back in October and I apologize for the repetition. But this nonsense just refuses to go away. Since then there have been numerous cases of police officers blaming fentanyl for panic attacks and/or simply passing out. Here is a typical scenario from December of last year.
Why is this a problem? In a follow-up piece on the above claimed “overdose”, actual toxicologist and expert on fentanyl exposures Ryan Marino sums it up:
Overdoses are killing hundreds of Americans every day, and the biggest driver of our overdose crisis right now is fentanyl in street drugs,” Marino said. “So I mean, I think it is something that everyone should be talking about. But these myths that come up, unnecessarily scare people, distract from meaningful conversations and even prevent people from doing the things that are necessary to really stop overdoses.
Marino has been pushing back against this false narrative for years. In this article, he further points out that this simply isn’t how fentanyl overdoses work. Our own Scott Gavura also delved into this issue last July, concluding that no meaningful absorption occurs with transient skin contact and simply washing the area with soap and water is all that is necessary.
These myths increase the risk that someone in actual need of a reversal agent on the street might be allowed to die because of fear of a contact or inhalation overdose. They originated as DEA disinformation designed to increase funding but have had the unfortunate side effect of distracting from efforts that might actually help people reduce their risk of death from overdose. Some people are even facing additional charges, such as “assault with intent to kill” after an officer has a bogus fentanyl overdose.