Three people have died, three are in critical condition, and one is permanently blind after ingesting hand sanitizer that contained methanol, the New Mexico Department of Health announced Friday.
The earliest case was reported to the New Mexico Poison Control and Drug Information Center on May 7 and the rest occurred after May 29, according to officials.
A spokesman from the Health Department said the cases were related to alcoholism, noting that hand sanitizer is sometimes consumed for its high alcohol content.
The announcement came a week after the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers against buying nine sanitizer products manufactured in Mexico because they contain methanol, which can be toxic if absorbed through the skin or ingested.
Whether the products involved in the deaths were among those listed in the advisory is under investigation, according to the Health Department.
Brandon Warrick, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico who is certified in emergency medicine, medical toxicology and addiction, said that in nearly a decade of working at poison centers, the recent spate represented the largest number of methanol poisoning cases that he had observed.
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SOURCE: New York Times, Marie Fazio