Ingestion of hand sanitizer cost three people's lives in New Mexico and one more became permanently blinded from methanol poisoning.

On Friday, a statement released by the New Mexico Department of Health says three of the seven people who reportedly ingested hand sanitizer in May, which cases were reported to New Mexico Poison Control, died due to methanol poisoning; one was permanently blinded, and the remaining three are presently in serious condition.

Health officials confirmed that the cases are related to alcoholism. Additional details about the victims or where the occurrence happened were kept confidential by the officials, Newsweek reported.

Methanol poisoning due to hand sanitizers

Hand sanitizers are used by several people to get intoxicated due to its alcohol content. Before the coronavirus pandemic, most prisons have banned using hand sanitizer based on the fear that inmates would use it to start fires or drink it. But the relaxation of restrictions on using alcohol-based sanitizers has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help combat the new coronavirus.

Kathy Kunkel, state health department secretary, in a statement, noted that people who ingested or consumed hand sanitizer that contains methanol are advised to seek medical care immediately.

As stated by Kunkel, the antidote for methanol poisoning is readily available, but the earlier the patient receives proper treatment for methanol poisoning provides a greater chance of recovery.

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In a report by Mirror, days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the public regarding certain brands of hand sanitizers that are produced in New Mexico, advising not to use the product due to the presence of methanol, the news about hand sanitizer ingestion came out.

Several products that are examined by the FDA embody 81 percent methanol. As stated by the agency, methanol is an unacceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should be banned due to the dangerous effect of the product.

According to the FDA, people who have been exposed to hand sanitizers with methanol content are advised to seek treatment that is critical for the reversal of methanol poisoning toxic effects. It added that substantial exposure to methanol could result in vomiting, headache, nausea, blurred vision, permanent blindness, coma, seizures, permanent nervous system damage, or even worst, death.

As specified by the FDA, people who take in these products, counting those who used methanol as a substitute for ethanol, which is the primary component of alcoholic beverages, are most at high risk for methanol poisoning.

It is uncertain why the seven residents of New Mexico ingested the hand sanitizer, or which products they have ingested specifically.

According to Post Gazette, Eskbiochem, the manufacturer in Mexico of nine hand sanitizer products that are said to have methanol content, have been contacted by the FDA recommending the company the removal of the products from the market because of the risks of methanol poisoning associated with the products. FDA made the recommendations on June 17 and as stated by the agency the products were not yet removed by the company.

In the June 19 statement of the FDA, the agency claimed that it was not knowledgeable of the adverse events that resulted from using the nine listed products.

The agency stated they are encouraging health care professionals, patients, and consumers to report quality problems experienced and harmful events while using hand sanitizers to the MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program of the FDA.


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