Americans warned against drinking hand sanitiser after four die and others go blind

A new report said 15 adults in Arizona and New Mexico were hospitalised for methanol poisoning after consuming alcohol-based hand sanitiser. The substance is toxic and can poison people

    Fifteen people were hospitalised after drinking hand sanitiser (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

    Americans are being warned not to drink hand sanitiser after four people died and others went partially blind after consuming the substance.

    The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 15 adults in Arizona and New Mexico were hospitalised for methanol poisoning after consuming alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

    Methanol is toxic and can even poison people through their skin, the CDC warned.

    As an ingredient, methanol is deemed "not acceptable" by the US regulator Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    Four people out of the 15 who were hospitalised died, three left hospital with new visual impairments and six had seizures as they were admitted – including three of those who died.

    The CDC has warned Americans not to drink hand sanitiser
    (Image: ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

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    One of the patients was a 44-year-old man who had gone to the doctor because he had gone partially blind all of a sudden.

    According to the report, he had drunk "an unknown quantity of alcohol-based hand sanitiser during the few days before seeking medical care".

    High levels of methanol were found in his blood and in hospital he experienced seizures.

    The patient also had to undergo dialysis to clean his blood.

    The man eventually recovered from the methanol poisoning after six days in hospital, but suffered long-term consequences as he was left with "near-total vision loss".

    Other patients sought care because of gastrointestinal or vision problems and some lost consciousness, NBC News reports.

    One of the people who were hospitalised reportedly decided to get checked because of media reports about methanol-contaminated hand sanitisers.

    Alcohol-based hand sanitiser contains methanol, which is toxic
    (Image: Getty Images)

    The report warned: "Severe methanol poisoning resulting in permanent disability or death can occur after swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing methanol."

    Following the incidents, the FDA has warned against more than 100 hand sanitiser products.

    A CDC spokesperson told CNN : "We wanted to specifically look at adverse events related to methanol because it is known to be toxic and potentially life-threatening when ingested."

    All of the cases detailed in the report had had blood tests to confirm the presence of methanol.

    Additionally, all of the individuals reported past hand sanitiser ingestion.

    The CDC recommends hand sanitisers that contain either ethanol or isopropanol, which are also alcohols, but not methanol.

    They have repeatedly stressed hand sanitiser should never be ingested.

    When in April President Trump suggested during a White House briefing that injecting disinfectant might be a possible coronavirus treatment, the CDC posted on Twitter : "Household cleaners and disinfectants can cause health problems when not used properly.

    "Follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective use."


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