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Hemorrhoid ointment containing lead fatally poisoned woman in California, health officials say

Rosalio Ahumada, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento County health officials on Tuesday warned consumers after a woman purchased a hemorrhoid ointment from Vietnam on social media and died from lead poisoning.

The woman in Sacramento developed severe lead poisoning after using the hemorrhoid ointment from Vietnam, called “Cao Boi Tri Cay Thau Dau,” according to a Sacramento County news release. She purchased the ointment on Facebook, and it was mailed to the United States by a relative in Vietnam.

County officials said it was unclear if people can directly buy this ointment in the U.S. The county news release did not indicate when the woman died or include any further information about her.

The California Department of Public Health tested a sample of the hemorrhoid ointment and found that it contained 4% lead, a highly dangerous amount of, county officials said. Lead is toxic, and exposure to any amount of lead can harm health, according to health officials.

Symptoms of lead poisoning can vary person to person and can depend on the amount of lead in a product, how often it is used and for how long. A blood test is the best method for identifying lead exposure.


General signs and symptoms from severe lead exposure include severe stomach cramping; pins-and-needles tingling, burning or numbness in the hands; and seizures, coma or death.

County officials said people who use this ointment should stop using it, see a doctor and have their blood tested for lead. All household members should have a blood test, especially children, because they could come into contact with the ointment.

Health officials advised the consumers who have this ointment to put the ointment in a sealed plastic bag and call the California Department of Public Health at (510) 620-3620 or send an email to


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