SACRAMENTO, California – Northern California Health Ombudsman issued a warning on Tuesday after a related skin cream imported from Mexico left a Sacramento woman in a semi-comatose state.
The dust's labeled skin cream was found to have been contaminated with methylmercury, a dangerous substance that can cause serious illness and is "extremely dangerous for adults and children," according to a news release on Sacramento County's website.
The woman obtained the cream – which is used to brighten the skin and get rid of stains and wrinkles – through an informal network that imports the product from Mexico, the release stated.
Health officials emphasized that mercury was not added to the manufacturer, but by another party after it was purchased.
The woman's disease is the first reported case of mercury poisoning linked to skin cream in the United States, according to the county.
"Sacramento County Public Health urges the community to stop using medical skin creams imported from Mexico because of the risk of contamination with methylmercury," Dr. Olivia Kasirye, the county's public health representative.
The California Department of Public Health works closely with the county to test similar creams in the methylmercury area.
Meanwhile, anyone using a skin cream from Mexico is urged to stop using it immediately. Instead, consumers should put the product in a closed Ziploc bag, take it to their doctor and have a blood and urine test, according to the county.
The symptoms of methylmercury poisoning include headache, fatigue, weight loss and numbness or tingling in the hands, feet or around the lips.
Over the past nine years, there have been over 60 poisonings in the state associated with unlabelled, homemade or foreign skin creams containing calomel or mercury chloride, a less toxic form of mercury, according to the release.
More information can be found on the Sacramento County Department of Health Service's website.