Alberta hospitals remove hand sanitizer bottles after death of drunken man

The death of a man in an RCMP cell in southern Alberta has, according to The Star, changed the way hand sanitizer is provided in hospitals.

Mounties took a drunken Kurt Kraus to the Vulcan Hospital in May 2010 and a doctor determined it was safe for him to be taken to a cell in nearby sanitizerGleichen to sober up.

A nurse had suspected the chronic alcoholic had ingested some hand sanitizer while at the hospital, but no one knew he had also swallowed 10 anti-depressant pills.

Within minutes of being placed in the cell, the 46-year-old stopped breathing.

A fatality inquiry in Calgary heard the man’s death was caused by the combination of drugs and alcohol — his blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal driving limit.

A judge made no recommendations, but noted that hospitals have since removed all portable bottles of hand sanitizer and replaced them with wall-mounted dispensers in public areas.

Over the past decade when hand sanitizers were all the rage, I heard several stories of hospital floors mysteriously losing their stash of sanitizer.

And there was this one time, when migrant produce workers in Ontario moved on and the supply of sanitizer also moved on.

There was this one time, when I was in jail; 4 Arizona inmates hospitalized; botulism from homemade alcohol suspected

Being in jail is a training school for how to get away with stuff.

I did 6 weeks dead time between conviction and sentencing in 1981 at the local jail – the equivalent of maximum security — and saw drugs enter daily. Since any visits were behind Plexiglas, the preferred method was via the exercise yard – we got 30 minutes a day in a small basketball-sized court surrounded by 20 feet of brick and topped with razor wire. People on the outside would flick half a cigarette, with the tobacco removed and filled with hashish, over the wall so it looked like another discarded butt.

At the minimum security institution, where visits involved contact, the preferred method was a long kiss and a balloon full of pills. I was just happy with some contact (thank you, Alison).

But, even wise guys can get it wrong.

The Arizona Republic reports that four state prison inmates were hospitalized with suspected botulism poisoning Friday after apparently drinking homemade prison alcohol,.

Three were reported in stable condition Friday night. The condition of the fourth was not known late Friday.

All four inmates had been housed in the maximum-security Eyman complex in Florence.

"It’s not an airborne illness," said Pinal County spokeswoman Heather Murphy. "It has to be ingested or injected. We cannot confirm it at this time, but we believe it to be contraband prisoner-made alcohol."

In some cases, inmates use fruit and bread from their food trays to ferment an alcohol concoction.

Barfield said that she once found about two gallons of homemade alcohol in a garbage bag.

"It’s that easy," Barfield said.

But because the smell is so overpowering, corrections officers can easily detect the contraband, which is flushed down the toilet, she said.

In 2011, 12 inmates at the Utah State Prison in Draper developed botulism after drinking a concoction made from fruit, potatoes, bread, water and sugar.

In 2004, four California inmates were hospitalized after contracting botulism from a two-gallon batch of prison-made alcohol.

Where is UB40? Red wine can be protective against Bacillus spores

Wine drinkers of the world rejoice. Not only can red wine be tasty but it might make for a good risk management decision. If you’re eating something that is contaminated with Bacillus cereus that is (and is not all that contaminated).

According to a paper by Vaz and colleagues published this month in Food Control, red wine’s phenolic compounds coupled with the ethanol content do have an inactivation effect on vegetative cells as well as spores.

The antimicrobial effect of wine on Bacillus cereus in simulated gastro-intestinal conditions
Food Control

Volume 28, Issue 2, December 2012, Pages 230–236

This study aimed to evaluate the antimicrobial activity of wine against Bacillus cereus vegetative cells and spores. The results clearly show that wine exerts a strong inactivation effect against vegetative cells of B. cereus. The red wine tested inactivated stationary phase cultures to undetectable numbers in less than 10 s. Thus, further inactivation assays were carried out with wine diluted with water (1:4 and 1:8). Diluted wine 1:4 caused a reduction of approximately 5 log cycles on viable cell counts in 20 s. On the other hand, B. cereus spores were found to be highly resistant to wine exposure. The influence of wine components (organic acids, ethanol and phenolic compounds) was investigated on vegetative cells. The wine organic acids tested exhibited a strong inactivation effect, and, when combined with ethanol, a slight synergistic effect was observed. The wine phenolic compounds assayed displayed no activity against the vegetative cells at the concentrations tested. At the simulated gastric conditions studied (in the presence of food), wine diminished considerably the number of B. cereus viable cells in addition to the effect of the synthetic gastric fluid. The behaviour of B. cereus spores under gastro-intestinal conditions was also evaluated. In a consumption-like scenario, the addition of wine led to lower total counts (vegetative cells + spores) of B. cereus in the simulated intestine conditions, showing that wine inhibits the proliferation of the vegetative cells obtained from the germination of spores. This work provides evidence that consumption of wine during a meal may diminish the number of viable cells of B. cereus and reduces the impact of the germination of spores that may occur in the small intestine, thus lowering the risk of toxi-infection that may be caused by this pathogen.

The protective nature of alcoholic drinks (greater than 10% alcohol content) has anecdotally been described in an outbreak situation. In a 1992 Hepatitis A virus-linked outbreak those who drank at the same time as eating the contaminated oysters were less likely to be infected with the pathogen.

Tools to keep hands pathogen-free can have unintended uses: teens drinking sanitizer

I received a bunch of my food safety education while working with fruit and vegetable farmers in southern Ontario (that’s in Canada). Sure, I learned lots of stuff in classes, but a lot of my training on practical ways to keep folks from barfing was in greenhouses, fields and orchards. Farmers deal with variability in weather, wildlife, prices and staff. Driving up and down dirt roads and walking through their systems led me to the conclusion that it takes a lot to surprise a producer.

One farmer who figured his staff were one of his biggest weaknesses, invested in a couple of portable restrooms that he was going to cart around to the orchards. He told his staff that they were expected to cease the convention of peeing against a tree. The staff didn’t like the idea of having to stop and walk back to the road where the porta potties were located. So they set them on fire and burned them down. The producer said calling the fire department was an unexpected outcome of his food safety program.

Another producer told me that he had installed fully stocked hands free restrooms in his greenhouse, put boxes of one-use gloves throughout his site and came in one day to see a staff member urinating on the outside of the restroom with his gloves on. Maybe not surprising is that he fired the employee on the spot.

Giving folks tools for risk reduction doesn’t always end up with the intended action. According to AP and USA Today teenagers are buying alcohol-based hand sanitizer, not as a bacterial reduction tool, but as a party drink precursor.

Teenagers are showing up in Los Angeles emergency rooms after drinking inexpensive liquid hand sanitizers to get drunk.
Cheap and easily accessible hand sanitizers contain 62 percent ethyl alcohol.

The Los Angeles Times says six teenagers have shown up in two San Fernando Valley emergency rooms in the last few months with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer.

Some of the teens used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, making a potent drink similar to a shot of hard liquor. Distillation instructions can be found on the Internet.

Although there’s only been a few cases, county public health toxicology expert Cyrus Rangan says it could signal a dangerous trend.


Norovirus outbreak hits Corcordia College; alcohol-based sanitizers and wipes won’t do to much

According to, a likely outbreak of norovirus has made at least 30 students of Corcodia College ill.

It was first reported on the 800-student campus Friday. Within a couple of days, 30 students contracted the virus and four wound up in Lawrence Hospital Center in Bronxville.

Katherine Chiciaza, 18, was in the school library Saturday morning when she became nauseous.
“I had to come back to the dorm and throw up in the bathroom,” she said. “I felt like that the whole day.”
The college sent out an email to students and staff, urging them to take precautions to avoid the virus, such as cleaning hands, and to stay hydrated if they get it.

The school also dispatched cleaning crews, twice a day, to sanitize all common areas, from the dining halls to dorms and classrooms.

Vittoria Rubino, 21, of the Bronx was armed with hand sanitizer and alcohol pads Tuesday as she arrived for class.
“I work in the writing center, so I’ve sterilized the keyboard because everyone uses them,” Rubino said. “I know I’m getting a little crazy.”

While hand sanitizer has its uses, reducing norovirus spread isn’t one of them. Pretty much all commercially available hand sanitizers suck when it comes to reducing norovirus viability. Same with the alcohol-containing wipes. All Vittoria is probably doing is spreading virus particles around.

I haven’t found any reports of University facilities folks suggesting that students substitute hand sanitizer for hand washing.

Martha Stewart gives turkeys booze before slaughter

Cookbook author and domestic mogul Martha Stewart told Stephen Cobert (see below) she gave live turkeys miniature bottles of alcohol before killing them with her bare hands.

"I give them, you know those little cognac and bourbon bottles that you get on airplanes? Well before the bird is slaughtered you [give them] that. You just pour it down."

Stewart plans to kill six turkeys for her own Thanksgiving dinner this month.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Martha Stewart
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

Are children really drinking alcohol-based sanitizers?

It’s not just prisoners drinking alcohol-based hand sanitizers for a buzz.

The Irish National Poisons Information Centre (NPIC) received 54 enquiries about alcohol-based sanitizers in 2009 and 74 per cent related to children. In 2008, there were just 20 calls from concerned doctors who were treating patients who had ingested alcohol hand gel

The Tipton Slasher and alcohol sanitizers revisited in British prison

William Perry, aka The Tipton Slasher, was the bare-knuckle heavyweight boxing champ of England in 1850 and 1856.

Apparently, I am related, through my father’s father’s family.

You can see it in the profile (left).

I figured this out during a grade 8 genealogy project in 1975.

Now that Al Gore has invented the Internet, I looked on-line, and there are lots of purported relatives of The Tipton Slasher.

But I have a collection of newspaper clippings outlining the alcohol-fueled antics – and downfall – of the Slasher, as well as a copy of the 1959 Pictorial History of Boxing, by Nat Fleicher and Sam Andre, passed through the family to me.

Hey, the Slasher’s even got his own wiki page.

“William Perry (21 March 1819 – 18 January 1881), known as the Tipton Slasher, was an English boxer of the bare-knuckle era.

“Born Tipton, Perry claimed the heavyweight boxing championship of England twice, in 1850 and in 1856. He was finally defeated by Tom Sayers in 1857.

“He died in Wolverhampton aged 62. A statue stands in the town of Tipton, yards away from the Fountain Inn public house, which was once his headquarters. The building received Grade II Listed Building Status in 1984 on recognition of its association with Perry, who regularly fought fellow boatmen on the many local canals in order to be first through the lockgates.”

Another site described great-great-great-great-great uncle Perry as possessing average physical skills but was “tricky, cool under pressure and used good judgment.”

Except when he bet everything he owned, including his bar, on a comeback title match for which he was woefully underprepared and lost everything, returning to work the canals and dying, penniless and drunk.

Cool statue though.

When they’re not bare-knuckle boxing in British prisons – I wonder which inmate has insisted on the nickname, The Tipton Slasher — they’re drinking alcohol-based sanitizers.

Peter McParlin of the Prison Officers Association says inmates were using hand sanitizer distributed to control H1N1 flu,  to make illicit alcohol.

The gel had been distributed around the prison to stop the spread of the swine flu virus. McParlin said on Thursday that giving inmates access to a gel with an alcohol content was unwise.

The Tipton Slasher would approve.

Passenger nearly dies of vodka poisoning

I had to relinquish a decent bottle of Scotch going through airport security a few months ago. I forgot it was in my carry-on instead of my suitcase and, no liquids through security, so that was that.

A 64-year-old traveling through the Nuremberg airport decided on another option, downing a litre of vodka rather than hand it over to airport authorities.

Police said a doctor was called as the man was quickly unable to stand or otherwise function.