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environmental health investigations branch

​Woman Dies from U​sing a Hemorrhoid Ointment from Vietnam

hemorrhoid cream from Vietnam A woman in Sacramento developed severe lead poisoning and died after using a hemorrhoid ointment from Vietnam called,  Cao Bôi Trĩ Cây Thầu Dầu​​.

Testing of the hemorrhoid ointment found that it contained four percent lead ​​(39,000 ppm), which is a highly dangerous amount. Lead is toxic. Exposure to any amount of lead can harm health.

The woman purchased the ointment on Facebook, and a relative in Vietnam mailed it to her in the U.S. It is unclear if people can directly buy this ointment in the U.S. ​ ​

Advice to Consumers

  • Do not purchase or use this hemorrhoid ointment.

  • If you are using this ointment, stop using it immediately.

  • ​If you used this ointment, see your health care provider and get your blood tested for lead (venous blood test). ​​​Blood lead testing is the best method for identifying lead exposure. Because other household members could have come into contact with the ointment, all household members should have their blood lead tested. Children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning.   ​

  • ​​If you have this ointment, put the jar of ointment in a sealed plastic bag and contact (510) 620-3620 or email toxoutbreak@cdph.ca.gov.​

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

Symptoms of lead poisoning can vary person to person. Symptoms can depend on the amount of lead in a product and how often it is used and for how long. Some people who have lead poisoning may not experience symptoms. Exposure to any amount of lead is harmful.

Symptoms of lead exposure include:

​Mild Symptoms​​
​Mo​derate Symptoms​​​
​Severe Symptoms
  • ​Fatigue
  • Irritability or m​​ood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleep​​ing
  • ​Muscle or joint pain
  • Nausea; decreased appetite
  • Stomach cramps
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Feeling tired or sleepy
  • Headache
  • Tremor​
  • ​​​Severe stomach cramping
  • Pins and needles, tingling, burning, or numbness in the hands.
  • Seizures, coma, and death.​

Resources ​​

  • ​For medical consultation, please call California Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222​​.
  • For more information about this health alert, contact toxoutbreak@cdph.ca.gov or call (510) 620-3620.

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   Medical Letter (for people who used the ointment to take to their doctor)
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