According to the Georgia Poison Center, two people in Georgia drank liquid cleaning supplies over the weekend in misguided attempts to repel COVID-19. Both men had a history of psychiatric problems and are expected to recover.
Poison center director Gaylord Lopez said he was unsure if the men had swallowed the chemicals because they heard about President Donald Trump’s statements during a Thursday White House briefing when the president wondered aloud if the coronavirus could be treated by injecting a disinfectant into the human body. Since the start of the pandemic, at least two other Georgians have fallen ill as a result of similar attempts to cleanse their internal organs with household chemicals, even before Trump’s words.
So far, however, the biggest spike in state poisoning from cleaning products has been caused by Georgians at home mixing products together to scrub the surfaces furiously, then falling ill while inhaling smoke. Last year, the Poison Control Center handled 49 product mix calls in March and April. This year, since March 1, the center has received 115 calls, said Lopez.
“When you mix bleach with certain types of chemicals, you produce a reaction that can cause the release of harmful and toxic gases, and if you inhale enough of this product, you can cause chemical pneumonia,” a said Lopez.
The same trend has been seen across the country with the CDC recommending disinfection of high contact surfaces and panicked buyers cleaning store shelves such as Clorox, Lysol and hand sanitizer. In the first three months of the year, calls to poison control centers for exposures to household cleaners and disinfectants increased by 20%. “There seems to be a clear temporal association with increased use of these products,” the CDC noted in a report last week.
Georgia has also seen an increase in the number of children ingesting chemicals because their parents, distracted while working at home, left them unattended around bottles of liquid and insecure medication, Lopez said. Overall, poison calls increased 9% this year.
Asked about Trump’s comments last week, Lopez lamented in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that too many people interpreted the information to mean that Trump had recommended the injection of disinfectants, when in fact he was only asking only questions about the possibility of such treatment. .
On Thursday, Bill Bryan, head of the science and technology division of the Department of Homeland Security, had just presented research indicating that the coronavirus cannot survive a long time under direct sunlight or under hot and humid conditions. Trump first came up with the idea of detonating the human body with ultraviolet light, and then asked about the disinfectant.
“And then I see the disinfectant, where he drops it in a minute,” said Trump. ” One minute. And is it possible to do something like that, by injecting inside or almost cleaning. Because you see that it gets into the lungs and it makes a huge number on the lungs. It would therefore be interesting to verify this. So you’re going to have to go to doctors. But it sounds – it sounds interesting to me. “
A White House press secretary later said that Trump’s comments had been taken “out of context” by the media, and Trump himself later said that he was only “sarcastic.” Yet Trump has faced criticism from health care professionals and legislators in Congress, and his comments prompted the distributor of Lysol to issue a press release warning that “by no means should our disinfectants be administered into the human body (by injection, ingestion or any other route)). “
Lopez noted that experiencing a pandemic can be particularly difficult for the mentally ill.
On Saturday, he said, a man in his 50s living southwest of Atlanta was hospitalized after drinking several ounces of bleach “to keep Covid out.” He was transferred to a psychiatric ward before being released.
“He said he took 16 ounces,” said the director. “I don’t know a lot of patients who will take 16 ounces, but again, he’s a patient with a psychological history. “
On Sunday, a man in his thirties living in the Atlanta area ingested a mixture of Pine-Sol, mouthwash, beer and pain medication. He has also since been released.
Lopez said he could not disclose more details of the cases due to patient privacy concerns. The Georgia Poison Center was notified of the two cases after receiving calls from the hospitals.
“We are not asking the question, is it because they watched a TV show? Said Lopez. “We are simply told, ‘What are we doing for these patients? “And it is our job to try to give them treatment advice to make sure that these patients get there.” “
Due to increased calls during the pandemic, health and human services in the United States have provided close to $ 5 million to poison control centers across the country to improve response capabilities. The Georgia Poison Center will receive $ 148,000.
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