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People are drinking hand sanitizer, becoming sick and even dying according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said Wednesday that four people have died and others are experiencing seizures and impaired vision, reports CTV News.
The CDC pointed to 15 cases where adults in New Mexico and Arizona were hospitalized with methanol poisoning between May and June after ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
The agency has now been forced to caution that "Alcohol-based hand sanitizer products should never be ingested," in a new report.
The CDC was notified in June from partners in New Mexico and Arizona along with public health officials that cases of methanol poisoning were emerging due to consumption of hand sanitizers.
Researchers and partners with the CDC have looked over 62 poison centres' call records from May to June to find out which cases could be described as methanol poisoning.
According to the researchers, 15 people between 21 and 65-years-old have been taken to the hospital after consuming alcohol based hand sanitizer
The researchers found that in six of the cases, patients developed seizures and three others left the hospital with new visual impairments.
The CDC report included four adult deaths.
"This investigation highlights the serious adverse health events, including death, that can occur after ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizer products containing methanol," the report reads.
"Safety messaging to avoid ingestion of any alcohol-based hand sanitizer product should continue," they wrote. "Young children might unintentionally swallow these products, whereas adolescents or adults with a history of alcohol use disorder might intentionally swallow these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute."
The US Food and Drug Administration has made several warnings about certain hand sanitizers containing methanol in the United States. Methanol is toxic, unlike ethanol which is often used in hand sanitizers. The Food and Drug Administration has warned against over 100 different hand sanitizers.
"We wanted to specifically look at adverse events related to methanol because it is known to be toxic and potentially life-threatening when ingested," said a CDC spokesperson in an email to CNN on Wednesday.
The FDA in July warned against hand sanitizers with methanol or wood alcohol, which is used to make antifreeze and fuel.
"Practicing good hand hygiene, which includes using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available, is an important public health tool for all Americans to employ," said Dr. Stephen Hahn, the FDA Commissioner in a news report.
"Consumers must also be vigilant about which hand sanitizers they use, and for their health and safety we urge consumers to immediately stop using all hand sanitizers on the FDA's list of dangerous hand sanitizer products."
"We remain extremely concerned about the potential serious risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol," he said.