New Mexico health officials say three people have died, three others are in critical condition and one person is permanently blind after apparently drinking hand sanitizer that contained methanol.
The New Mexico Department of Health said Friday that the cases were reported to the state poison control center.
The first case came in early May. The others have occurred since May 29.
The health department couldn’t immediately say what the circumstances were in the recent cases, but authorities have noted that within the homeless community, some people with substance abuse issues have been known to use sanitizer and other products as a substitute for alcohol.
“If you think you may have used or consumed hand sanitizer containing methanol, please seek medical care,” said the state’s Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel said in a news release obtained by KTLA sister station KRQE in Santa Fe. “An antidote to methanol poisoning is available, but the earlier someone gets treated for methanol poisoning the better the chance of recovery.”
A week ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers against using certain hand sanitizer products over concerns they contained methanol, which can be toxic when ingested or absorbed through skin.
The substance was discovered by the FDA in samples of Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ hand sanitizers, both of which are produced by Eskbiochem SA, according to the federal agency.
That prompted the FDA to list nine brands manufactured by the company that consumers should stop using.