Arkansas police department deletes overhyped warning about fentanyl after it goes viral

A dangerous warning posted by a police department in Arkansas about fentanyl on shopping carts quickly went viral, but has since been deleted over concerns the guidance was overblown and not a genuine threat.

Earlier this week, the Leachville Police Department shared an alert urging the public to wipe down their shopping cart handles before using them. In the post, the department said deadly drugs, namely fentanyl, could be left behind on the handle and enter the next person’s body through skin contact.

"All you'd have to do is rub your nose or touch your child's mouth," the department wrote. "Children just being exposed to the powder or residue is a bad situation that can turn deadly."

However, while some experts say the accidental ingestion is technically possible, most say it would be highly unlikely to occur from a person touching a cart handle.

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Fentanyl Citrate, a CLASS II Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure area of a local hospital Friday, July10, 2009.

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A seized counterfeit hydrocodone tablets in the investigation of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in northern California is shown in this Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) photo released on April 4, 2016. At least 42 drug overdoses in the past two weeks have been reported in northern California, 10 of them fatal, in what authorities on Monday called the biggest cluster of poisonings linked to the powerful synthetic narcotic fentanyl ever to hit the U.S. West Coast.

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Fentanyl Citrate, a CLASS II Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure area of a local hospital Friday, July10, 2009.

(Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Dory Bauler's unused Fentanyl patch packets. She is one of millions of patients who used the fentanyl patch, which delivers a powerful narcotic through the skin. The patch, brand name Duragesic, was the subject of a recent FDA alert. Patients are overdosing, sometimes they die. Mrs. Bauler came off the patch when she realized the drug was causing her breathing problems, a sign of serious trouble. This photo was taken at her home in Laguna Woods.

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A small bag of straight Fentanyl on display at the State Crime Lab at the Ohio Attorney General's headquarters of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 in London, Ohio.

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(Gerry Melendez/The State/TNS via Getty Images)


Dr. Christopher Hoyte, associate medical director for the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center and faculty member for the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, told CBS News he can't say it's "impossible," but said that the claim is "very improbable."

"I never say never, but it is highly, highly, highly, unlikely someone could become that systemically ill just from having fentanyl touch their skin," Hoyte told the outlet. "It's not absorbed just touching it."

"I will say if they touched it and then rubbed their nose and breathed it in through that way that would be a possibility," he added.

Franklin County Lt. Scott Reed from the Multi-County Narcotics and Violent Crimes Unit told WKYC that the chances of being poisoned by fentanyl from touching a grocery cart are highly unlikely.

He further told the outlet, that if a user had enough of the drug in their system to the point that it could transfer to another, they would be unconscious.

The police department has since deleted that post and apologized for the confusion.

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