MATSUE - A 5 year-old girl fell unconscious from acute alcohol poisoning after she licked sanitizer sprayed on her hands to prevent novel coronaviruses infections at a nursery school, officials said.
The girl has since recovered and been discharged from a hospital, but her case caused a scare and prompted precautions in use of alcohol-based sanitizers among children.
The incident occurred on the afternoon of March 28, according to the Unnan city government in Shimane Prefecture.
The girl, who was at the nursery school at the time, said she felt dizzy and could not stand up. Her parents were contacted, and they took her to a hospital in the city.
She became unresponsive at the hospital, even though she was treated with an intravenous drip and other methods.
She was taken to Shimane Prefectural Central Hospital in Izumo and arrived there unconscious, officials said.
Doctors were unable to find anything abnormal in her tests, including a magnetic resonance imaging MRI scan, that could explain her condition.
She regained consciousness at 9: 30 p.m. that day. She said she had licked alcohol-based sanitizer on her hand during nap time at the nursery.
Her blood-alcohol concentration level was quite high, at 120 milligrams per 1 deciliter. She was diagnosed as having acute alcohol poisoning.
Tomohiro Hirade, a pediatrician who saw the girl, said the girl could have consumed between 30 and 50 milliliters of alcohol because she said she had licked the sanitizer about 10 times, although the amount of alcohol that causes acute alcohol poisoning depends on a person's weight.
The girl said she had sniffed or licked the sanitizer before.
Children might put hand sanitizer in their mouths because they may be curious about its smell or taste, Hirade said. It is necessary to disseminate the information that a small amount of hand sanitizer could cause children to suffer from alcohol poisoning. Acute alcohol poisoning can damage the liver, lower blood-sugar levels and even lead to death.
The nursery school had allowed children aged 4 or 5 to use the hand-sanitizer dispenser after learning how to operate it.
The Unnan city government instructed all nursey schools to keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer out of the reach of children and allow them to use it only under the supervision of staff members.
In Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, between 49 and 56 reports a month of poisoning from ethanol-based disinfectant were received from February to April 2020, when the novel coronaviruses was spreading, the Japan Poison Information Center said.
The figures were twice that for the period through January 2020.