The couple discovered packages that were marked by similar names and addresses on Tuesday evening on February 12th. They watched Sheriff's Clay County office, which later confirmed that the powder inside the pack was 2.5 grams of fentanyl. Two milligrams of highly effective opioid are a lethal dose for most people, according to DEA.
Teresa Gilbertson, who opened one envelope containing two bottles of fentanyl, said she at first glance seemed to have her name and address. She was in the middle of opening the package when she noticed something special: a plastic bag with a white powder.
"I did not open the second bag, which is a worship service, but I really should not open the first bag," Gilbertson said.
The package also contained a note: "I love you, call me," Gilbertson said.
Her husband, Roy, feared what might happen if he was exposed to more powder. "If we opened this second package, we would be contaminated and perhaps die from it," he said. "We were stupid and we were lucky, that's what's been done."
Direct skin contact is a potential route of exposure to fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although this is unlikely to result in overdose. Short contact with the skin generally will not lead to toxic effects if the substance is removed immediately.
However, CDC warns of inhalation of fentanyl powders or aerosols, or contact with skin or mucous membrane breaks such as internal lips or inside the nose may lead to rapid onset of symptoms. Significant exposure to this drug may slow down or stop breathing.
Teresa and Roy Gilbertson say their experience serves as a warning story to others. They are particularly worried about children and elderly patients who open the packaging and touch a strong drug, which can lead to exposure.
The Sheriff's Office of Clay County is now investigating the incident as a drug delivery product.
Sheriff Mark Empting warns against touching any unknown powder or cloth in the post office. "It could have gone wrong – we were lucky it was not," he said. "We have people who do bad things and bring innocent people to them."
Last year there was a 750% increase in confiscated packages containing opiates in the US, as reported by the US Postal Service.
Glyndon is about 10 miles east of Fargo.