Fighting Covid-19 may be increasing accidental poisoning in homes with one of the country’s poison centres reporting a steep spike in calls related to disinfectant exposure.
The Poison Information Helpline of the Western Cape says as families have started buying more household disinfectants, including hand sanitisers, to fight the pandemic, cases of unintentional exposure have been increasing too, particularly in children under the age of five. According to the centre, over the past year hand sanitiser exposures increased exponentially from only six cases in 2019 to 160 in 2020 — more than a 26-fold increase. The centre says it has also seen a surge in ingestion of eucalyptus oil — one of the essential oils that have gained popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even though its efficacy in preventing Covid-19 has not been proven, eucalyptus oil which has antiviral properties, has been widely used by many who believe that its vapours offer protection against viral infections and assist in breathing.
This essential oil has long been known to have anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator and antiviral properties. Arina du Plessis, a poison information specialist from the Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre said the number of eucalyptus oil ingestions doubled from 21 in 2019 to 43 in 2020.