Tampa officials weigh-in on viral story about wiping down shopping carts to avoid overdose

Tampa authorities weigh-in on topic

TAMPA, Fla. - As police departments throughout the nation are giving all sorts of warnings regarding opioids, a police department in Arkansas warned people to use shopping cart wipes before touching carts in order to prevent accidental exposure to opiates, including fentanyl — a synthetic opiate pain reliever that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to newlifehouse.com.   

"Fentanyl or something like that still on their hands and they touch that cart handle and then you do, it can get into your system," the Leachville Police Department posted on Facebook. "Scary but worth taking the time to clean the handle. All you'd have to do is rub your nose or touch your child's mouth. I never even considered this possibility. Children being exposed to just the powder or residue is a bad situation that can turn deadly."

The post has been deleted. 

Tampa police are unaware of any local instances as described in the post by Leachville police. 

Tampa Fire Rescue released this statement to ABC Action News: 

"Tampa Fire Rescue is unaware of any instances involving transference of fentanyl from a grocery cart to a person. The premise laid out in this warning assumes one person had enough fentanyl on their hands to leave residual on a cart handle for another customer to be threatened with exposure. In that case, there should be more concern for the health of the person leaving the residue on the cart. Regardless, the risk of overdose from simply touching small amounts of powdered fentanyl is extremely low to non-existent. Wiping cart handles does more to prevent the spread of flu than the spread of powdered fentanyl."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015. Nearly half of the opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid, according to the CDC.

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