Akron police weigh in on post warning public of fentanyl on shopping cart handles

AKRON, Ohio -- A Facebook post warning the public to wipe down cart handles at grocery stores to avoid drug overdoses is going viral -- but is the warning warranted?

The post was shared by the Leachville Police Department in Arkansas Wednesday evening, and it's been popping up on several websites since.

The post stated:

"You know when you go to Wal-Mart and they have the wipes to clean your cart handle? How many of you don't use them? Well I do and I always thought of the germs only. Was told today that the police chief also suggests you do it also because of all the problems with drugs now days and if they have Fentanyl or something like that still on their hands and they touch that cart handle and then you do, it can get into your system. Scary but worth taking the time to clean the handle. All you'd have to do is rub your nose or touch your child's mouth. I never even considered this possibility. Children being exposed to just the powder or residue is a bad situation that can turn deadly."

As of Thursday afternoon, the post was removed and the post below was put in its place.

Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said the opioid epidemic does affect Summit County, but he's not aware of any such incident happening there.

He said police officers do take their own precautions, like using face masks and suiting up in instances where they may be exposed to drugs, and the epidemic has changed the way they do business on a daily basis.

Edwards said, likewise, the public should take any safety measures when possible.

"I would say, use all the precautions you can for anything," he said. "Has it happened here? Not that we're aware of. Could it happen? I'm sure it could. It's not been reported, we're not trying to put fear in people's' lives, but if the resources are available, and you could prevent anything from happening...use the preventative measures and wipe the cart off."

But he emphasized that every day, the public enters multiple businesses, restrooms and restaurants, touching door handles, windows and store merchandise.

"And we've never had anyone report they've overdosed from touching these surfaces," he said. "But in the same token, could we take those precautions if we wanted to? I'm saying, if the resources are there, ready at hand, where you wipe a handle off and wash your hands or whatever, take those precautions."