Three people have died and three others are fighting for their lives after allegedly drinking hand sanitiser.
A seventh person has been left permanently blind after drinking the substance in New Mexico sparking warnings from health officials.
The first case was reported to the New Mexico Poison Control Center on May 7, Mail Online reports.
The other cases happened after May 29.
All were related to alcoholism, experts said noting that hand sanitiser is sometimes consumed for its high alcohol content.
A statement on the New Mexico Department of Health website says: “The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports three recent deaths from methanol poisoning.
“In addition to the three people who died, one person is permanently blind, and three others are still in critical condition.
“All seven people are believed to have drunk hand sanitizer containing methanol.”
The announcement came one week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers not to use nine hand sanitisers made by a Mexican company because of methanol levels.
It’s unclear if the hand sanitisers used in the latest incidents are among those on the FDA list.
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.
He said swallowing methanol can be lethal. For those who survive, brain damage or blindness are common side effects because the toxin damages the optic nerve and the brain.
It may be fatal when inhaled, applied topically or ingested.
“Since hand sanitiser is hard to find in the Covid era, I suspect there is an association with Covid,” Dr Warwick said.
On Friday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that state had 225 new confirmed cases to create a total of 11,408 cases.
Four additional deaths brought the death toll to 489.
The FDA last week warned Americans to stop using nine hand sanitisers that may be toxic.
“Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects,” the FDA said in a letter published last week.
In its warning, the FDA listed the following nine products:
- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)