In the past two days at least four people died and dozens more are hospitalized in Georgia after reportedly overdosing on prescription pain killers.
Investigators don't know what the drug is, but Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nelly Miles said street drugs are often laced with a variety of substances.
First responders say patients were unconscious or unresponsive and had difficulty breathing or stopped breathing, and many of them required ventilators.
Bibb County Sheriff's Special Investigations Unit reported there have been some pills purchased on the street that may be causing a bad drug reaction. The hope is for all of the department's patrol cars and drug units to carry kits in case deputies encounter people who've overdosed.
Percocet is a brand-name drug that contains the opioid painkiller oxycodone and the analgesic pain reliever acetaminophen. Almost a dozen overdoses and four deaths have occurred in central and south Georgia in just two days.
The substance is lethal Gaylord Lopez GA Poison Center Director Sam Allen Dougherty Co. EMS Director
State officials acknowledged Tuesday that narrowing down an exact cause for the deaths and overdoses in middle Georgia could be hard.
"There is a new drug that's surfaced in our community", Hendry said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. "What is uncommon is to see so many (overdoses) come in in such a short time frame", said Dr. Christopher Hendry, chief medical officer of Navicent Health, one of the hospitals receiving the overdose victims.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis on Tuesday invited "anyone who has a drug problem" or who normally takes illegal drugs to come forward, promising that authorities were willing to forgo any criminal charges in favor of information leading to an arrest.
Officials described the drug as "extremely potent" and warned those who have ingested it to call 911 immediately.
Police in Georgia say the illicit "yellow pills", which are being sold as Percocet, can cause severe levels of consciousness and respiratory failure.
Heroin-related deaths also rose in that period, going from 3,036 in 2010 to 12,989 in 2015, totaling for a 24.3 percent of all overdose-involved fatalities, reported the NCHS. The number of deaths increased from 52,404 to 59,000.