Fifteen adults have been poisoned after drinking a hand sanitizer that contains methanol, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
Methanol or wood alcohol is a toxic chemical that can lead to hospitalization or death by ingestion.
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The Food and Drug Administration first warned of hand disinfection with possible methanol contamination in June, citing nine products from Mexico. The list has since grown to 1
The CDC report includes 15 cases of methanol poisoning in New Mexico and Arizona in May and June. The mean age was 43, and 13 of the cases were in men. Several of the cases were among American Indians / Alaska Natives, although the report did not specify the exact number. All 15 individuals were hospitalized and four died. Three other developed vision problems, a known side effect of methanol poisoning.
All cases detailed in the report had blood tests to confirm the presence of methanol. In addition, all individuals reported ingesting disinfectant hands from the past.
In one case, highlighted in the CDC report, a 44-year-old man sought care after developing vision problems. The man said he had drunk an unknown amount of hand sanitizer in recent days. The man was hospitalized and had seizures. He was later discharged with “almost complete loss of vision,” the report said.
Other people have sought care due to gastrointestinal or vision problems. Some lost consciousness. One man sought care because of media reports of methanol-contaminated hands.
The report notes that cases of methanol poisoning that occur when someone applies the chemical to the skin are rare, although they can occur. All individuals who have been exposed to hand sanitizers contaminated with methanol should seek medical attention immediately if they develop symptoms, the report said.
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