Three people have died, three others are in critical condition and one person is permanently blind after apparently drinking hand sanitizer that contained methanol, New Mexico health officials said Friday.
The state Department of Health said the cases were reported to the New Mexico Poison Control Center, with the first coming in on May 7. The other cases occurred since May 29.
The health department confirmed that the cases were related to alcoholism.
Officials did not disclose any additional details about the victims, where the incidents took place or if they were related in some fashion.
Three people are dead, three in critical condition and one is permanently blind after drinking hand sanitizer that caused methanol poisoning
‘All seven people are believed to have drunk hand sanitizer containing methanol,’ the statement read.
The announcement came one week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers not to use nine hand sanitizers made by a Mexican company because of methanol levels.
It’s unclear if the hand sanitizers used in the latest incidents are among those on the FDA list.
Authorities have noted that people with substance abuse issues, particularly within the homeless community, have been known to use sanitizer and other products as a substitute for alcohol and liquor.
Brandon Warrick, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico who is certified in addiction, emergency medicine, medical toxicology, told The New York Times that the recent report is that largest number of methanol poisoning cases he’s ever seen.
Warrick, who works at the New Mexico Poison Control and Drug Information Center, said the methanol cases spanned two states and several counties.
Typically, a larger number of methanol poisonings have happened during times when alcohol is difficult to come by.
Hand sanitizer became a hot commodity during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting Warrick to believe the smattering of cases are related to the virus.
‘Since hand sanitizer is hard to find in the Covid era, I suspect there is an association with Covid,’ he said.
On Friday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that state had 225 new confirmed cases to create a total of 11,408 cases.
Four additional deaths brought the death toll to 489, while 128 New Mexicans are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus.
New Mexico has managed to avoid a significant spike in cases, as nearby states like Arizona and Texas struggle with their reopening plans.
New Mexico recorded 225 new COVID-19 cases, four new deaths and 128 residents hospitalized with the virus as of Friday
Methanol can cause kidney damage, blindness, blurred visions, headaches, vomiting, nausea, seizures, permanent damage to the nervous system and death
Health officials have warned against drinking hand sanitizer, and officials said the use of hand sanitizers containing methanol for any purpose that may result in poisoning.
A toxic form of alcohol, methanol can cause kidney damage, blindness, blurred visions, headaches, vomiting, nausea, seizures, permanent damage to the nervous system and death.
It may be fatal when inhaled, applied topically or ingested.
State Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said there is an antidote, but the earlier someone gets treated for methanol poisoning, the better the chance of recovery.
‘If you think you may have used or consumed hand sanitizer containing methanol, please seek medical care,’ she said.
‘An antidote to methanol poisoning is available, but the earlier someone gets treated for methanol poisoning the better the chance of recovery.’
The FDA last week warned Americans to stop using nine hand sanitizers that may be toxic.
The FDA warned Americans not to use nine hand sanitizers made by Mexico-based company Eskbiochem SA de CV (left and right) Health officials say the products contain methanol, a type of alcohol that can be toxic if it is absorbed through the skin or ingested
All nine products are manufactured by Mexico-based Eskbiochem SA de CV and contain varying amounts of methanol.
‘Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects,’ the FDA said in a letter published last week.
‘Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.’
In its warning, the FDA listed the following nine products:
- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)
The FDA said tests found that the CleanCare No Germ line contained 28 percent methanol while Lavar Gel contained 81 percent of the toxic chemical.
‘Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning,’ the federal health agency said.
Methanol poisonings are not common, but they do occur. In 2013, more than 1,700 cases occurred in the US.
In January 2016, two Tennessee high school students died after ingesting a mixture of Mountain Dew and methanol, believed to have come from racing fuel.
Additionally, in April 2018, a Massachusetts man died after consuming alcohol that was contaminated with methanol.
On June 17, the FDA said it advised Eskbiochem to take its hand sanitizer products off of shelves. As of June 22, the company has not done so yet.
Eskbiochem did not immediately reply to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
The FDA recommends that the general public wash their hands with soap and warm or hot water for at least 20 seconds.
If soap and water isn’t available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol.