Three people died and one is permanently blind from methanol poisoning after taking in hand sanitizer in New Mexico, according to the state’s Department of Health.
The cases, which were spread out between several weeks in May, are related to alcoholism, health officials said.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA warned people not to buy nine (9) sanitizer products manufactured by a company in Mexico after they were found to contain methanol — a chemical that can be toxic.
It is not clear whether the victims took in any of the hand sanitizers produced by the company.
According to health experts, a greater number of methanol poisonings usually occur in times when alcohol is difficult to come by.
Three people died, three are in critical condition, and one is permanently blind from methanol poisoning, according to health officials.
The New Mexico Department of Health said the cases are related to alcoholism, adding that hand sanitizer is sometimes consumed for its high alcohol content, CNN reported.
The first case was reported to the New Mexico Poison Control and Drug Information Center on May 7, with the rest occurring after May 29, officials said.
No additional details on the victims or where the incidents happened were provided, although a doctor working at Poison Control Center said the cases stretched across two states and multiple counties, according to the New York Times.
Ingesting significant amounts of methanol can result in symptoms including nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, or death, according to the National Capital Poison Center.
Dr. Warrick, who is an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico and is certified in emergency medicine and medical toxicology, told The Times that historically, experts have witnessed more methanol poisonings in times when alcohol is difficult to come by.
New Mexico health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said in a statement. “If you think you may have used or consumed hand sanitizer containing methanol, please seek medical care,”
“An antidote to methanol poisoning is available, but the earlier someone gets treated for methanol poisoning the better the chance of recovery,” Kunkel added.
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