County of Brant sees almost 20 overdoses through first half of January: officials

An OPP officer displays bags containing fentanyl as Ontario Provincial Police host a news conference in Vaughan, Ont., on February 23, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

The County of Brant has already seen more overdoses through two weeks of January than it usually sees in a month.

The Brant County Health Unit says emergency services have already responded to 17 overdose incidents this year. Four of those have been fatal.

That's compared to an average of 13 overdose incidents per month last year.

"Information about drug types that contributed to the overdose incidents is unavailable at this time, but illicit drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil are known to be circulating in the community," a release from the BCHU reads in part.

Police say the deaths were caused by unknown amounts of fentanyl mixed with drugs, and believe all of the overdoses were accidental ones.

The spate of overdoses has prompted public health officials to issue a public safety alert, urging users to take precautions around drugs.

They're recommending people not to use drugs alone and to go slow if trying a new substance for the first time.

Officials say you should take a small test dose first to see how it will affect you, and recommend that people know their sources.

Drug users should also carry naloxone and, should an overdose occur, use it and call 911.

Police are investigating all four of the suspected overdose deaths.