PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Arizona's poison centers are warning people not to drink moonshine made from hand sanitizer.

According to Banner Health, 14 people have had to be hospitalized in critical condition over the past month because of methanol poisoning related to drinking the moonshine.

"Having 14 cases is off the charts," said Dr. Frank Lovecchio, a medical toxicologist with Banner Health. "It's a huge blip, telling us there's an abnormality there."

Dr. Lovecchio says the global pandemic has led to a shortage of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which some use distill into alcoholic beverages.

But now, some of these hand sanitizers are made out of methanol, which can cause brain damage, stroke-like symptoms, and blindness if ingested. Dr. Lovecchio said several of the people died of methanol poisoning, and some of them will be permanently blind.

"So these poor unfortunate people think they're getting bootleg alcohol, or maybe they're making bootleg alcohol, and then they succumb to this bad influence of methanol," said Dr. Lovecchio.

Dr. Lovecchio says all of these cases have come from Northeastern Arizona.

"Liquor stores, particularly on the reservation, are a little bit farther away, so it's harder for you to get to it. So people resorted to making their own stuff. By resorting to making their own stuff, it fell to the problems of getting contaminants in it, such as, in this case, methanol," Dr. Lovecchio said.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency involving a poisoning, you can call Banner's poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

 

Copyright 2020 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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