A team from the Medical University of Graz in Austria has reported a case of severe gastrointestinal damage in a patient who had intentionally ingested hand sanitiser to prevent COVID-19.
In April 2020, the 41-year-old female presented to the emergency department with recurrent vomiting and abdominal pain that had been ongoing on for two days and additional haematemesis for several hours.
The past medical history was unremarkable, except for bariatric gastric bypass surgery performed in 2016.
During detailed inquiry the patient reported she had intentionally taken 10 ml of ethanol-containing hand disinfectant orally per day for a period of over three weeks to prevent being infected with COVID-19 virus.
The product had been obtained from a community pharmacy and had been produced according to WHO standards.
Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy was performed and showed superficial mucosal damage in the oesophagus, slightly increased mucosal redness in the stomach, and severely injured small bowel mucosa with extensive fibrinous exudates.
The authors stress that ingestion of chemicals to disinfect against COVID-19, even when considered by governmental authorities, has no proven anti-viral effect and carries major health risks.
The case is published in the journal Histopathology.