Sanitizing-gel poisoning cases soar among Spanish children amid pandemic


The number of Spanish children treated for poisoning after ingesting hand-sanitizing gels has rocketed as the product has become ubiquitous during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Spanish National Toxicological and Forensic Institute said on Wednesday the total reported intoxications from those gels so far this year, at 874, was almost 10 times the number reported in all of 2019.

Children, especially toddlers, accounted for almost two-thirds of the cases. Most of them had swallowed the gel, while a much smaller percentage got it in their eyes, or had been intoxicated after inhaling the product.

“Most common symptoms were digestive tract irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, red eyes, tears or blurring vision,” the institute said in a report.

About 80% of the cases had symptoms that “reversed in a short time”.

The four or five cases of serious gel poisoning in the country involved only adults, according to a spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry, which oversees the institute. No fatalities were reported, she said.

In Spain, sanitizing-gel dispensers are now available at all train stations, stores, schools and public bathrooms, where they are free of charge, as well as in private homes and cars.

With close to 900,000 registered COVID-19 cases and more than 33,000 deaths, Spain is the hardest-hit country in Western Europe, and authorities have imposed restrictive measures in several regions, including Madrid, to curb a surge in contagion.

Various health institutions around the world have warned the public of the need to be cautious when using and stocking hand-sanitizing gels as they always contain a toxic disinfecting agent, such as methyl alcohol.

In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautioned consumers against packing hand sanitizers in children’s food pouches and beverage bottles. The FDA also warned against the use of food-flavored hand sanitizers due to the risk of their ingestion by children.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro, editing by Andrei Khalip and Mark Heinrich)


- Advertisement -

Add your comment(s)



Pakistani PM writes to Facebooks Zuckerberg seeking ban on Islamophobic content

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content on the social networking...

Trump goes on offensive against Biden with trip to New Hampshire

By Steve Holland President Donald Trump will go on the offensive against Democratic rival Joe Biden on Sunday with a campaign trip to New Hampshire,...

Cenovus Energy to buy Husky Energy in an all-stock deal valued at $23.6 billion

Cenovus Energy Inc will buy Husky Energy Inc in an all-stock transaction valued at $23.6 billion, the companies said in a statement on Sunday. Husky...

Pence’s staff at White House test positive for COVID-19

By Lisa Shumaker A new coronavirus outbreak at the White House involving Vice President Mike Pence's staff comes as the United States reported a near-record...

Belarus police fire stun grenades at protesters as opposition threatens national strike

Belarusian police used stun grenades against protesters on Sunday as tens of thousands of people headed towards Independence Palace in the capital Minsk demanding...