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Trump's Comments On Disinfectant Injections Get Medical Backlash

A photo of Clorox Bleach sitting on a grocery store shelf.

The CDC reports 45,500 exposures to cleaning products and disinfectants in 2020 so far. (Ethan Burks, WFIU/WTIU News)

President Donald Trump suggested last week injecting disinfectants into patients to fight COVID-19, triggering an outcry from medical personnel nationwide.

Trump said he thought the medical community should look into studies to see if this method could work.

"I see the disinfectant — where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?" Trump said.

An IU Health toxicologist disagrees from a medical standpoint.

“We know that when people ingest cleaning products and disinfectants, or even if they would go to the length of injecting it, that’s going to cause serious harm, serious health problems, and in some cases even death,” said Dr. Blake Froberg.

Froberg specializes in these types of cases at the Indiana Poison Center. He said there has been an increase in cases related to cleaning products and disinfectants in March and April compared to last year.

“In March, we had 417 cases, which is 100 more cases than March of 2019,”  Froberg said, adding that he has not seen a noticeable increase since last week after the president made his comments.

But NPR reports doctors in New York City did.

The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says it received 30 cases in an 18-hour period following the president’s comments.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting a significant increase in cases involving cleaners and disinfectants on a national scale.

An April 20 report says the number of exposures to cleaners and disinfectants reported to U.S. poison centers in 2020 totaled 45,500. That is 7,500 more exposures than the entire 2019 calendar year.

“I think anytime you have more of a product in your house, then there’s going to be more of a chance of exposure,”  Froberg said. “The majority of these exposures result in minor effects and good outcomes.”

Froberg says if a person were to ingest these products, it could cause major organ problems.

“Your mouth, your esophagus, your stomach, and in a real severe case, you can have permanent damage to those linings and that would affect the way that you’re able to eat and drink,”  Froberg said. “Maybe even for the rest of your life.”

Froberg says, to his knowledge, no one in the medical community is pursuing a study on injecting patients with disinfectants.

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

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