Roundup: Unsafe Misuse of Cleaners, Disinfectants; FDA: Food Products Safe; and First U.S. Pets Test Positive

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April 24, 2020


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CDC: Misuse of Cleaners, Disinfectants Leads to Jump in Calls to Poison Control Centers

The coronavirus pandemic has made everyone hyper-sensitive about personal hygiene and disinfecting surfaces. In too many cases, however, the mishandling, or accidental misuse, of cleaners and disinfectants has led to an increase in calls to poison control centers.

Calls to both state and local poison control centers tied to cleaners and disinfectants jumped 20 percent in the first quarter to 45,550, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The increase in total calls was seen across all age groups — but “exposures among children aged 5 years (or younger) consistently represented a large percentage of total calls,” the CDC said.

Complaints from callers included shortness of breath from inhalation and dizziness, and vomiting from ingestion.

Here’s one example from the CDC: “A preschool-aged child was found unresponsive at home and transported to the ED via ambulance. A 64-ounce bottle of ethanol-based hand sanitizer was found open on the kitchen table. According to her family, she became dizzy after ingesting an unknown amount, fell and hit her head. She vomited while being transported to the ED, where she was poorly responsive. Her blood alcohol level was elevated at 273 mg/dL (most state laws define a limit of 80 mg/dL for driving under the influence).”

The CDC adds: “To reduce improper use and prevent unnecessary chemical exposures, users should always read and follow directions on the label, only use water at room temperature for dilution (unless stated otherwise on the label), avoid mixing chemical products, wear eye and skin protection, ensure adequate ventilation, and store chemicals out of the reach of children.”


FDA to Consumers: Food and Food Packaging are Not Linked to COVID-19 Transmission

Many consumers are concerned about shopping for groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic, including possibly picking up the virus from food packages that are not wiped down. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says in new guidance that shoppers are at a low risk because there are no confirmed reports or any evidence that it’s possible to get coronavirus from food or food packaging.

But you still have to worry about face-coverings and social distancing at your supermarket. That’s because you are more likely to get the virus from touching a dirty handle on a shopping cart — and then touching your face, experts say.

“We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” the FDA says in a news release. “This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food.”

The FDA does recommend that food shoppers carry their own disenfecting wipes, “or use one provided by the store to wipe down the handles of the shopping cart or basket.” The guidance also states that “if you use reusable shopping bags, ensure they are cleaned or washed before each use.”

The FDA also is letting consumers know that they shouldn’t worry about food shortages. “Although your grocery store may be temporarily out of certain products, there are no nationwide shortages of food,” the agency states. “Food production and manufacturing are spread throughout the United States.”

Related article:
Coronavirus and Surfaces: Know This Before Grabbing That Door Knob


Two Cats are the First U.S. Pets to Test Positive for COVID-19, says CDC and USDA.

Public health officials announced this week that two cats have been infected with COVID-10, the first pets in the United States to test positive for the coronavirus.

The cats live in two separate areas of New York state, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL).

“Both had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery,” the agencies said. (COVID-19) infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.”

At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended. Should other animals test positive in the U.S., the USDA will post the findings, the CDC said. State animal health and public health officials will take the lead in determining whether animals should be tested.

“Public health officials are still learning about COVID-19, but there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States,” states the CDC and USDA. “Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including pets, could be affected.”

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