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CDC Warns Against Swallowing Hand Sanitizer Containing Methanol

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that swallowing hand sanitizers that contain methanol can cause permanent blindness or death, if not treated. The federal health agency called on people to immediately discontinue use of hand sanitizers recalled by U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Some of the hand sanitizers that FDA banned from consumption in the country include the following:

Blumen Clear Advanced Hand Sanitizer, Blumen Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer, Blumen Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Clear, KLAR AND DANVER Instant Hand Sanitizer, MODESA Instant Hand Sanitizer Moisturizers and Vitamin E, Blumen Advanced Hand Sanitizer, and Blumen Advanced Hand Sanitizer Aloe.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should only contain ethanol or isopropanol, but some products imported into the United States have been found to contain methanol.

In its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), CDC said that 15 cases of methanol poisoning from swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers were reported in Arizona and New Mexico between May 1 and June 30.

Four patients died, and three were discharged with visual impairment.

CDC urged health departments in all states to coordinate with poison centers to identify cases of methanol poisoning.

"Alcohol-based hand sanitiser products should never be ingested," the CDC said in the report.

FDA had earlier warned about a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol but have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested, it noted.

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