Will County coroner warns of human deaths caused by animal tranquilizer

The Will County coroner is sounding the alarm about a dangerous new drug being mixed in with things like Fentanyl and Cocaine.

Xylazine — also known as tranq — is a tranquilizer for large animals and is legal for veterinarian purposes, but it is now being found in street drugs.

"We have an age group in the 30s to the 50s, we're wiping out a generation," said Miachael VanOver, Will County’s Deputy Chief Coroner when talking about drug poisonings over the past few years.


Will County coroner Laurie Summers posted a warning to residents on Facebook that they are seeing more Xylazine-positive deaths.

"If people are being warned on the street that are in the throes of addiction that this is going on, they may hesitate on buying from somebody they don't know," said Summers.

So far this year, Summer is reporting three confirmed deaths that included Xylazine compared to nine last year.

"But it's probably cheap. It's an easy way to cut, they make more money. So we're seeing it mixed a lot with Cocaine, Fentanyl, Cocaine Zylazine, so they make more money. And then people ask, 'Well, why would they do that? They're killing people.' They don't care. There's 10 more coming behind them," said Summers.

Xylazine is not an opioid, so Naloxone or Narcan doesn’t work to reverse a poisoning and symptoms are alarming.

"Things like erratic heartbeat, erratic blood pressures, extreme anxiety, and paranoia," said Laura Fry, the Executive Director at Live4Lali.

She says Xylazine can cause wounds, a small cut can grow into an open wound, and it is not just from injecting drugs.

"It's people who snort there substances, it's people who smoke their substances, and typically these wounds are being seen on the extremities," said Fry, who said there’s been seven Xylazine-positive drug poisonings in Lake County this year.

The DEA is reporting the number of Xylazine-positive overdose deaths increased in the Midwest by 516% from 2020 to 2021.