CDC warns of the dangers of drinking hand sanitizer after fatal poisonings

CDC on Wednesday cautioned the public about the risks of drinking hand sanitizer and it warned poison control centers to be alert for cases of methanol toxicity. According to the agency, 15 people in Arizona and New Mexico were hospitalized in May and June after they swallowed alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

CDC on Wednesday cautioned the public about the risks of drinking hand sanitizer and it warned poison control centers to be alert for cases of methanol toxicity. According to the agency, 15 people in Arizona and New Mexico were hospitalized in May and June after they swallowed alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Four of those individuals died, and three patients sustained visual impairments. "Alcohol-based hand sanitizer products should never be ingested," CDC said in the advisory on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if any of the individuals who were poisoned drank the hand sanitizer for its disinfectant properties—some adults had consumer the product for its alcohol content, CDC said. Health officials noted that consuming hand sanitizer made with either methanol or ethanol could lead to headache, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of coordination and decreased level of consciousness. Poisoning with methanol can also lead to metabolic acidosis, seizures, blindness, and death, they said. "Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizer products containing methanol can cause life-threatening methanol poisoning," CDC said. "Young children might unintentionally swallow these products, whereas adolescents or adults with history of alcohol use disorder might intentionally swallow these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute." FDA last week reported that it had placed methanol-based hand sanitizers made in Mexico on an import alert due to their toxicity. FDA also noted it was working with retailers to recall that kind of hand sanitizer and remove those products from marketplaces.