Poisoning cases in Missouri up 35% with extra cleaning supplies at home

If there's a poisoning in your home, don't look anything up on the internet, but call the poison control hotline 800-222-1222 as quickly as possible.

Brian Kelly
April 22, 2020 - 4:01 pm

    ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The combination of stay at home orders and the necessity to keep everything clean during the coronavirus pandemic, has resulted in a dangerous unintended consequence: an increase in poisonings, especially involving children.

    According to the Missouri Poison Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, cases are up 35% over last year. Director Julie Weber tells KMOX children are getting into cleaning materials like bleach and hand sanitizer.

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    "Products that we usually have up high on shelves are down in the access of children. So, maybe we're using that bleach more frequently and just storing it under the sink instead of putting it back up away from the child, where it belongs," Weber says. "They're within the reach of the child and often have a good scent, or sometimes could be a flavoring that they think they smell. It looks good and they're getting into those products."

    A majority of the cases involve children found with a container, or maybe chewing on the lid or licking it off their hand. Most minor ingestion cases can be handled over the phone, she says, but the ingestion of a large amount of hand sanitizer can impact a child's blood sugar and could lead to a coma. She says that hasn't happened here, yet. 

    A major concern, she says, is if it gets in their eyes.

    "The hand sanitizer cases that have been more concerning for outcomes, or effects the child has had, have been exposures to the eye," she says. "You have to be real careful when you're using the product because it can splatter and in the eye it causes a really strong irritation or conjunctivitis." 

    When it comes to adults, Weber says a major concern is hydroxychloroquine.

    "Often they think they're calling for symptoms of the coronavirus," she says. "It's the side effects from the hydroxychloroquine. What worries us, there is a real caution we have to use with that medication because it can have effects upon the heart." She says you should not use hydroxychloroquine until more is known about it's efficacy. 

    Weber says if there's a poisoning in your home, don't look anything up on the internet, but call the poison control hotline 800-222-1222 as quickly as possible.

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