SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Santa Clara County is taking its warning about counterfeit opioid pills directly to parents of schoolchildren.

The Santa Clara County Health Department, working in conjunction with the District Attorney’s Office, Office of the Medical Examiner and the County Office of Education, has sent a health advisory regarding opioid overdoses from fake pills–which look nearly identical to percocet or oxycodone–to all school districts in the county.

The effort to spread the word directly to parents of students came after word of yet another death involving a 16-year-old within the county. The death toll from January through August of this year due to fake opioid pills containing fentanyl now stands at 11.

This includes a 15-year-old girl from Campbell who ingested only half a counterfeit pill that she thought was oxycodone, but instead contained fentanyl.

Fentanyl is powerful a drug that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine, where a tiny 2 milligram dose is enough to kill most people.

A deadly dose of fentanyl with a penny next to it for perspective

Dr. Sara Cody, head of the Santa Clara County Health Department, had an urgent warning to the youth of the county.

“There are fake pills in circulation in our county,” said Cody. “Don’t take a pill unless you or your parent got it directly from a pharmacy. Don’t take a pill that a friend has given you. Don’t take a pill that you buy on the street, because you have no idea what’s in it. And it could be deadly.”

The Office of Education tells KPIX 5 the advisory was sent to all public information officers at all of the county’s school districts last week. The county does not require districts to send out the advisory, nor does the county track compliance. It is unknown how many districts have informed their parents.

However, the Cambrian School District in San Jose sent out the email Monday morning titled “Health Advisory.”

Parent Alison Wortman was “taken aback” by the email, but appreciated it nonetheless.

“So while I was a little surprised that an elementary and middle school district was sending us this information, better to start just feeding it into the kiddos because I’m sure these deaths were because of the lack of education around it,” said Wortman.

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