The two of them discovered packets that were tagged with similar names and addresses to their own, Tuesday night, February 12th. They warned the Clay County Sheriff's office, who later confirmed that the powder in the packs was 2.5 grams of fentanyl. Two milligrams of the high-power opioid is a lethal dose for most people, according to DEA.
Therese Gilbertson, who opened one of the envelopes containing two fentanyl packages, said that at first glance her name and address appeared to be on her. It was in the middle of opening a bundle when he noticed something odd: a plastic bag with white powder.
"I did not open the second bag, which was a gift, but I really should not have opened the first bag," Gilbertson said.
The package contained a note: "I love you, call me," says Gilbertson.
Her husband Roy was worried about what might happen if they were exposed to more dust. "If we had opened this second package, we would have been polluted and probably died from it," he said. "We were dumb and we were lucky, this is down to that."
Direct skin contact is a potential route of exposure to fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although it is unlikely to result in overdose. Short-term contact with the skin usually does not lead to toxic effects if the substance is removed immediately.
However, the CDC warns of inhalation of fentanyl or aerosol powders, or contact with skin or mucous disruption such as the inner lip or inside of you can lead to rapid onset of symptoms. Significant exposure to the drug may delay or stop breathing.
Theresa and Roy Gilbertson say their experience serves as a warning story for others. They are particularly concerned about the children and the elderly who open a package and touch the powerful medicine that probably leads to exposure.
Clay County Sheriff's Office is now investigating the incident as a drug delivery case.
Sheriff Mark Empting warns against touching an unidentified dust or substance in the mail. "It could have been bad – we were lucky we did not," he said. "We have people who do bad things and bring innocent people into it."
In the United States there was a 750% increase in packed opioids in the past year, according to the US postal service.
Glindon is about 10 miles east of Fargo.