The couple discovered the parcels that had similar names and addresses on Tuesday evening, February 12th. They alerted the Clay County Sheriff's Office, who later confirmed that the powder in the packages was 2.5 grams of fentanyl. According to the DEA, two milligrams of the potent opioid is a lethal dose to most people.
Teresa Gilbertson, who opened one of the envelopes with two Fentanyl packages, said at first glance her name and address were obvious. She was about to open a packet when she noticed something strange: a plastic bag of white powder.
"I did not open the second bag, which is a godsend, but I really should not have opened the first bag," Gilbertson said.
The package also contained a note, "I love you, call me," Gilbertson said.
Her husband, Roy, was worried about what could have happened if they were exposed to more powder. "If we had opened the second package, we would have been contaminated and possibly dead," he said. "We were stupid and lucky, that's what matters."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, direct skin contact is a potential exposure route for fentanyl, although this is unlikely to result in overdose. Short skin contact does not generally result in toxic effects if the substance is immediately removed.
However, the CDC warns against inhalation of fentanyl powders or aerosols. Contact with skin ruptures or mucous membranes such as the inner lip or in your nose can cause a rapid onset of symptoms. Substantial contact with the drug may slow or stop breathing.
Teresa and Roy Gilbertson say their experience is a warning to others. They are particularly concerned that children and the elderly open a pack and touch the potent drug, possibly resulting in exposure.
The Sheriff Office in Clay County is now investigating the incident as a drug transfer.
Sheriff Mark Empting warns against touching unidentified powders or substances in the mail. "It could have turned out to be bad – we were lucky it did not succeed," he said. "We have people who do bad things and make innocent people."
According to the US Postal Service, in the United States there was a 750 per cent increase in confiscated packs containing opioids last year.
Glyndon is located about 10 miles east of Fargo.