Cincinnati - The heroin problem in Ohio is now getting attention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The federal agency has been asked to come here and help find answers to a disturbing new trend that is costing lives – heroin mixed with a prescription pain medication.
State and local health experts said they are hoping what they learn during meetings Tuesday at the Hamilton County Board of Health will help them tackle the heroin crisis.
The CDC has a six-person team on the ground in Ohio, meeting with the Ohio Department of Health, and the Hamilton County Health Department.
Officials said they're focusing on a particular part of the heroin crisis – the number of deaths related to fentanyl.
Authorities said fentanyl is a prescription pain medication that has been showing up in heroin. The big mystery is why it's being mixed with heroin.
"We don't fully understand the fentanyl situation, and that's one of the reasons we wanted their help with this," said Dr. Mary DiOrio, the medical director of the Ohio Department of Health.
ODH asked the CDC to help look into the problem.
"We think that some people don't even know that it's in what they're injecting so we're trying to fully understand what people do and don't know so we can target the messages appropriately so we can protect lives," DiOrio said.
We've seen the deadly consequences of fentanyl in Greater Cincinnati.
Kenneth Gentry is facing charges in the overdose death of an Arlington Heights man earlier this year that was blamed on fentanyl.
Authorities said the fentanyl problem causes only a fraction of the deaths heroin alone causes – but it's a problem that's growing quickly.
Authorities said heroin deaths increased 18 percent in Ohio last year to a total of nearly 2,500. In 2014 there were about 500 deaths linked to fentanyl – an increase of nearly 600 percent from the year before.