Florida poison centers see spike in calls about disinfectants

Florida’s Poison Information Center in Jacksonville: Do not take any treatment without doctor recommendation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Poison centers around the country are reporting an increase in the number of calls from people asking which disinfectants are best to take to treat COVID-19.

This comes after President Donald Trump’s offhand comment Thursday wondering if disinfectants could be injected or ingested to fight COVID-19.

The White House said the president’s comments had been misrepresented by the media, and Trump said he had been speaking sarcastically.

He had noted at a Thursday briefing that research was underway into the effect disinfectants have on the virus and wondered aloud if they could be injected into people. “Is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Trump asked. “Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”

Don’t try that at home, others quickly warned.

RELATED | Don’t inject disinfectants, Lysol warns as Trump raises idea

The U.S. Surgeon General’s office tweeted a reminder to all Americans: “PLEASE always talk to your health provider first before administering any treatment/ medication to yourself or a loved one."

After receiving more than 100 calls to its hotline, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency tweeted this alert: “This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.”

Dr. Jay Schauben with UF Health, who is the director of Florida’s Poison Information Center in Jacksonville, said the state’s centers have seen an increase in calls since the president’s comments last week.

“They are not meant to be put inside the body and they will cause a significant toxic reaction is you do so," said Shauben.

News4Jax checked in with the poison center in Jacksonville on Tuesday and was told it had received 17 calls over the weekend from people asking, “What is the best disinfectant to take?" But the poison center said it did not have any cases in which people intentionally ingested disinfectants.

Ahead of the president’s Thursday comments, the News Service of Florida reported April 20 that calls to poison centers for exposure between January and March totaled 45,550, an increase of 20.4% and 16.4% over calls made to the centers during the same time frame in 2019 and 2018, respectively, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Poison Information Center in Jacksonville said it cannot emphasize enough: do not take any treatment without doctor recommendation first.

Florida’s Poison Control Centers provide free, confidential help with poisoning emergencies 24/7/365. The number to call is 1-800-222-1222.

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