WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- In response to abrupt cases of poisoning due to ingesting disinfectants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday issued a health warning regarding the danger of swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Arizona and New Mexico reported 15 cases of poisoning relating to drinking hand sanitizers which had methanol; four of them died while three were afflicted with visual impairment, the CDC said.
- The Food and Drug Administration said in late April that hand sanitizers should not include methanol as part of its ingredients.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a health advisory against ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizers over reported cases of poisoning across the country.
In May and June, the CDC said that Arizona and New Mexico recorded 15 cases of poisoning through methanol intake from hand sanitizers. Four patients died after being hospitalized, while three acquired visual impairment.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a consumer alert last month about several hand sanitizer products that have methanol. The CDC then received reports of poisoning cases relating to ingesting sanitizers.
“Persons should never ingest alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid use of specific imported products found to contain methanol, and continue to monitor FDA guidance,” the CDC said.
After the CDC obtained the reports, authorities reviewed the cases and found that 15 adults had drunk alcohol-based hand sanitizers with methanol. Almost all patients were men, and their mean age was 43.
The CDC’s warning highlighted the case of a 44-year-old man who swallowed an unknown amount of hand sanitizers. The methanol ingredient was found in his blood test result. The patient was confined for six days because of “acute methanol poisoning,” and got discharged with almost no visual capability.
Throughout the pandemic, health agencies have continuedly issued warnings about the use of hand sanitizers. In late April, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn issued a caution that urged hand sanitizer makers to ensure the quality of their products over growing reports of poisoning cases associated with the use of such disinfectants.
The advisory came days after President Donald Trump during a White House press briefing suggested the use of ultraviolet light or injecting disinfectants as a potential COVID-19 medicine. He drew public criticisms with the idea which he later said was not meant to be interpreted literally.
Based on a report published by the CDC in March, from January to March of 2020 versus the same period of last year, there was a 20 percent increase in calls received by poison control centers regarding exposure to disinfectants. The agency said that the surge of inquiries was associated with the coronavirus outbreak.
Typically, alcohol-based sanitizers have ethanol or isopropanol. The CDC promotes its use to fight the virus outbreak. But the FDA, which regulates the distribution of sanitary products, has claimed that methanol should not be part of its ingredients mix.
Source: The Hill