Fact check: Can you overdose from fentanyl left on shopping cart - KMOV.com

Fact check: Can you overdose from fentanyl left on shopping carts?

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A viral Facebook post warned people of possible fentanyl exposure on shopping cart handles, but experts cast doubt.  ISTOCKPHOTO A viral Facebook post warned people of possible fentanyl exposure on shopping cart handles, but experts cast doubt. ISTOCKPHOTO

CBS NEWS -- A warning about the dangers of drug residue on shopping carts went viral this week — but experts were quick to cast doubt on how accurate the claim really is.

The Leachville Police Department in Arkansas said customers should always wipe their shopping cart handles before using them, because deadly drugs like fentanylcould be left behind and enter your body through contact with your skin.

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

But Chad Sabora, one of the founders of the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery, says the chance of someone getting sick — let alone overdosing — from residue on a shopping cart is "completely impossible."

"It's just like comparing the HIV epidemic in the 80s when people claimed you could get AIDS from sitting on the toilet," Sabora told CBS News. "This is dangerous to opiate users. Like touching them can kill you? It's not true." 

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, said he can't say it's "impossible," but instead calls it "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 CBS News. "It's not absorbed just touching it."

Hoyte said the only way someone could feel side effects from the drug would be if they breathed it in.

"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.

Sabora pointed out powdered fentanyl is meant to be snorted or injected.

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