4 Dead, 11 Hospitalized After Ingesting Hand Sanitizer With Methanol

Lizzy Buczak
August 06, 2020 - 4:58 pm

    The CDC is warning the public not to consume or ingest hand sanitizer.

    According to the agency, 15 adults in the U.S. have been hospitalized for methanol poisoning.

    Methanol, a wood alcohol and toxic chemical that can be deadly if ingested, is not an approved hand sanitizer ingredient.

    The FDA has flagged over 100 hand sanitizers that may contain methanol since June. The methanol hand sanitizers—59 varieties in all—were made in Mexico, according to the list on the website.

    Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which help to curb the spread of COVID and reduce the transmission of germs, should only contain ethanol or isopropanol alcohol.

    The CDC notes that all the cases were confirmed to have methanol in their system.

    The cases occurred in New Mexico and Arizona in May and June.

    Of the 15 people hospitalized, 13 were male with a median age of 43.

    Four patients died while three others were discharged with visual impairment, according to the report.

    Several cases affecting Native Amercians, which NBC notes is a population with the highest number of COVID cases and hospitalizations than any other racial group.

    Shardai Pioche, a research assistant at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, told NBC that the substance abuse went hand-in-hand with poverty.

    Many of those who were hospitalized ingested “ocean water,” a mixture of hand sanitizer and water.

    "If you're not able to afford to buy alcohol — if there's hand sanitizer available and it's only $3 — it goes hand and hand, kind of, with poverty," she explained.

    Symptoms of ingesting methanol include headaches, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and, in some cases, death. If you or anyone you know has ingested hand sanitizer with methanol, see a doctor immediately.

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