Kansas Poison Control Center sees an increase in calls

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Calls to the Kansas Poison Control Center are up 45% compared to this time last year. With more people at home due to the coronavirus, the center has seen an increase in calls related to cleaning products. According to the center, this call increase can be traced almost to the exact day that the statewide stay-at-home order went into effect.

The University of Kansas Health System Poison Control Center Medical Director, Dr. Stephen Thornton, said many of the calls have been from people misusing cleaning products. In fact, the center has seen a 54% increase in the unintentional misuse of products, compared to the last two years. This includes mixing products that shouldn’t be mixed, using too much of a product or not having proper ventilation when cleaning. Dr. Thornton added it’s not necessary to use more product than normal or to mix products in order to kill coronavirus germs.

“It doesn’t take an exceptional amount of these products to kill the virus, it’s basically using them as prescribed, so to speak,” explained Dr. Thornton. “I think that will eliminate a lot of the problems people run into.”

The center has also received multiple calls about children getting into cleaning supplies. This includes kids ingesting hand sanitizer, which can lead to alcohol poisoning.

“Hand sanitizers are really just concentrated amounts of ethanol,” said Dr. Thornton. “For a little kid, that can be a lot of alcohol very quickly.”

At his press briefing last Thursday, President Trump made remarks that alluded to people injecting disinfectants in order to cure the coronavirus. The Kansas Poison Control Center received two calls that directly mentioned the President’s remarks; both calls were asking for clarification and no one had ingested or injected cleaning products.

However, a call came in on Thursday after the President’s briefing from a friend of a man that had drank detergent in order to cure the coronavirus. This call did not directly mention the President’s remarks.

Dr. Thornton warns people that ingesting or injecting these products would be very bad.

“Ingesting any of these products is a bad idea. Some of them can cause severe injuries to your esophagus and stomach, those can cause metabolic problems,” said Dr. Thornton. “Injecting these products would take it to a level that, to be honest, even poison control centers wouldn’t be all that familiar with.”

He continued that the damage done by injecting cleaning products is mostly unknown but would be severe.

“Injecting these kinds of products that are very caustic, destroy tissue…you know, I don’t even know what they would do if a significant amount of them got to the heart or lungs or liver,” Dr. Thornton added. “That would be just really really devastating type of injuries.”

Dr. Thornton advises Kansans to use cleaning products like normal; not too much and do not mix products. It’s also important to keep cleaning products and hand sanitizers out of reach of children.

“If you use these products as they’re supposed to be [used], they’re generally very safe products. You just have to follow the safety guidelines and the warnings,” said Dr. Thornton.


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