Three people in New Mexico have died and a fourth is permanently blind after drinking a dangerous amount of hand sanitizer, officials said.
The state’s Department of Health on Friday said another three patients remained in critical condition over the weekend. All seven people “are believed to have drunk hand sanitizer containing methanol,” it said.
Swallowing methanol, when it isn’t lethal, can cause brain damage, blindness as well as nerve and kidney damage
While authorities have not provided specific details they suspect the string of poisonings are related to alcoholism. It’s not uncommon for people to use hand sanitizer to get intoxicated due to its alcoholic content, and it was previously banned from prisons for fear inmates would consume it to get drunk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has in recent month recommended that facilities consider relaxing restrictions on alcohol-based sanitizer to help combat coronavirus.
The recent series of incidents in New Mexico were reported across several weeks in May. None of those involved have been identified.
It also comes days after the Food and Drug Administration urged people against using hand sanitizer products manufactured by Eskbiochem SA due to the potential presence of a toxic chemical.
“If you think you may have used or consumed hand sanitizer containing methanol, please seek medical care,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel.
“An antidote to methanol poisoning is available, but the earlier someone gets treated for methanol poisoning the better the chance of recovery.”