ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The powerful sedative “xylazine” is leading to a dramatic increase in deaths in Illinois.

The animal sedative is also known as “tranq.”

New data shows that it is often combined with fentanyl, and the results are often deadly. It has been linked to 161 deaths in Illinois last year, compared to 53 in 2019.

The disturbing jump in deaths has health officials sounding the alarm.

“It’s so deadly because it actually is not an opioid,” said Maryann Mason, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “So, it doesn’t respond to naloxone or Narcan, which means you can’t reverse a Xylazine overdose.”

New test strips can now detect xylazine and are being used to help combat the crisis.