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.
‘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.
Source: News update