By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Police in Winnipeg are investigating whether a young child suffered a possible fentanyl overdose.
Const. Rob Carver says paramedics were called to a home Tuesday night and found a child under the age of eighteen months in critical condition. Police also found residue of what they suspect was the powerful opioid fentanyl, he said.
Police are still waiting for confirmation from Health Canada, but Carver said investigators immediately donned hazmat suits.
“I don’t know any of the mechanics or details as to the possible route of exposure … but our investigators are concerned enough that front-line officers aren’t going to go in. We’ve got to bring people in hazmat suits,” Carver said.
“If it’s deadly for a grown-up, I can’t imagine the risks that would be involved for an infant.”
The child has been upgraded to stable and the prognosis is good, Carver said.
“That’s about as close as we want to come to what would have been a tragedy.”
Police and health officials say fentanyl poses a serious threat to public safety across North America. The opioid is used as a painkiller for terminally ill cancer patients and is 100 times more powerful than heroin.
“The drug is deadly and it’s not just deadly to the people who may be using it,” Carver said.
“Tragically, this is not the first time and it will not be the last time, that someone using illegal drugs has done so in the presence of children and put those children at risk. The context of the risk is different now. This is new territory for everyone.”
The investigation continues and officers hope to have some confirmation early next week about the residue found in the home.
Charges are possible, Carver said.
“If this unfolds the way it looks like it potentially may, if we have an infant who was exposed to a potentially deadly substance — an illegal substance — I think the conclusion would be investigators would be looking at some sort of child endangerment (charges).”