CDC Warns Against Drinking Hand Sanitizer, Really

August 5, 2020

By: Staff Report and CDC Warning

RIVERVIEW, Fla. – From May 1 through June 30, 2020, 15 cases of methanol poisoning were reported in Arizona and New Mexico, associated with swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Four patients died, and three were discharged with visual impairment.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer products should never be ingested. In patients with compatible signs and symptoms or after having swallowed hand sanitizer, prompt evaluation for methanol poisoning is required. Health departments in all states should coordinate with poison centers to identify cases of methanol poisoning. Common Sense Folks.

A man aged 44 years was evaluated at a health care facility for recent onset of visual impairment. The patient reported drinking an unknown quantity of alcohol-based hand sanitizer during the few days before seeking medical care. Initial laboratory investigations were notable for a blood methanol concentration of 97 mg/dL and metabolic acidosis, with an anion gap of 32 mEq/L, serum bicarbonate concentration of <6 mEq/L, and arterial blood pH of 7.09. His clinical course was complicated by seizures. The patient was treated with fomepizole and underwent hemodialysis. He recovered after a 6-day hospitalization for acute methanol poisoning and was discharged with near-total vision loss.

Ugh.

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