Triad Group Alcohol Swab Recall: Risk of Microbial Contamination

  • Written by: Staff Writers

A possible risk of microbial contamination has resulted in the recall of Triad Group alcohol prep pads, swabs and swabsticks, which are sold under a variety of labels, including CVS and Walgreens brands. 

The alcohol swab recall was announced on Thursday by the FDA due to the possible contamination by Bacillus cereus. There has been one non-life-threatening skin infection reported that was linked to the contaminated swabs, but the manufacturer, Triad Group, warns that there is a risk of potentially life-threatening infections as well.

The swabs, prep pads and swabsticks are used to sterilize a patient’s skin prior to receiving an injection. If the products are contaminated, they could put bacteria on the skin which could then be pushed into the body by the needle or could cause a skin infection. In a press release, Triad Group said that the infections are most dangerous to patients in at-risk populations such as those with suppressed immune systems or surgical patients.

The recall affects all lots of alcohol prep pads, alcohol swabs and alcohol swabsticks made by Triad Group and sold under either as Triad Group products, or under the following labels: Boca/Ultilet, Cardinal Health, Conzellin, CVS, Moore Medical, PSS Select, VersaPro and Walgreens. They were distributed in the U.S., Canada and Europe to retail pharmacies and are packaged in individual packets and sold in boxes of 100 packets.

Bacillus cereus is responsible for about two percent of all foodborne illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Illness comes within 24 hours after exposure and can result in a diarrheal illness. Serious illness and permanent injury are very rare.

Wholesalers, hospitals and retail pharmacies have been notified by the company with instructions on returning the product. Consumers who have any of the recalled alcohol swabs, prep pads or swabsticks should not use them, and should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Customers with questions should call Triad Group Customer Service at 1-262-538-2900.

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  1. DANIEL Reply

    I HAVE USED THIS PRODUCT ONLY BRIEFLY. I have redness and serious dry skin. I still have the product that was included in COPAXONE injection box.Any suggestions?

  2. ashley Reply

    i have ms and have been takeing copaxon after two hours i got a horbail rash all over and when i did the shot it was so pain full i cryed. i called shared solutions they told me i was alergic to it i stoped the shots and had a relapse that lasted a week that was so bad i had to go to the hospital. then i get this paper in the mail saying the alchol pads were recalled. so i started up on the shots agein without the alchol just soap and water….no rash a very little pain hmmmmmm now what should i do? if i have another leasion (witch i only have on my spine and they cause me a great deal of pain) because of the relapse shouldent i sue or something? i mean ms isent a joke and neiter or the leasions im so aggervated that an alchol pad can do this

  3. linda Reply

    my daughter has ms, she takes copaxone shots daily and uses the Triad Alcohol preps,she has been sick since Aug. of 2010, been to doctors, had test and scans but still no better because it seems they cannot find what is wrong. she has headaches, nausea, stomach pains,cannot eat bvecause her stomach hurts so bad, she is loosing weight,says she is about ready to give up.

  4. True Reply

    I have been using be alcohol wipes every day for the past nine months I have had sosmach flu symbols and weird infections on my eyes and face

  5. april Reply

    i had surgery at the end of 2007 the following day i fell ill with severe vomiting and diarrhea much to the bewilderment of hospital staff and now i’m wondering if this was the cause

  6. Elizabeth Reply

    I am diabetic. I have a box of Triad Alcohol Swabs I purchashed at Rite Aid. In 9/2009 somehow I contracted sepsis and landed in the hospital.
    It was a very scary time. I also has surgery a little over a year ago. Currently I have “MRSA”, I am going to ask for some blood testing to be done to find out exactly what bacteria is in my system. I feel like an 80 yr old woman. I am also fastidious about hand washing and germs etc. because I am diabetic. Always so careful…. so to have had these things happen is devastating. I am not returning my swabs to the store. I might have them tested at an independant lab. I just wonder if it’s all connected. I don’t really believe in coincidences. Unreal.

  7. Stephanie Reply

    Yeah I have been using them too and the side of my leg has been itching like crazy I have been itching so bad I have a humungus bruise on my leg ….. Going to the doctor I better be getting refunded for this!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Velma Reply

    MSer/Copaxone user…compromised immune system. Gained over 20 pounds in fluid, earache, flu like symptoms, crippling migraines, nausea that felt like violent appendicitis attack…..led me to ER, where I was prescribed: PROMETHAZINE, an intravenous MORPHINE Injection, and HYOSCYAMINE. That was six weeks ago and ALL symptoms are still there. Serious concern for my longterm health and afraid I am gonna die. This OKIE wants answers, out of pain and shutdown of Triad factory, of course after we find out what we were actually contaminated with.

  9. Alicia Reply

    I’ve been using the recalled insertion trays, alcohol swabs and sterile lubricating jelly…like all of you I have also had issues this past year. In 2010 I was on antibiotics six times, went to a dermatologist, a wound clinic and urgent care. I had 2 cultures taken one was from a rash on my hand that was seeping the other urine culture. Maybe I should back track and find out what type of bacteria was found!!!!

  10. eric Reply

    My 19 month old daughter developed bacterial meningitis November, 2010. We almost lost her. She had seizures, fevere, etc. She was comatized for nine days. She now has a shunt and can’t walk, crawl, etc. She has to relearn everything. Hopefully she will be able to. She has never been sick before this, not even an ear infection. One week before she was diagnosed she got a flu shot. Immediantly after the shot she had diarrhea, low grade fever, etc. How do I find out if she contracted this infection from the alcohol swab? I know we could call the pediatrician office and ask if the Triad swabs were used, but we are afraid they will not tell us.

  11. tjd Reply

    Sue: Did you ever find out any more information about pseudomonas? After a procedure at my ob/gyn, where they used a Triad swab, I developed a pseudomonas infection and was hospitalized for 8 days.

  12. Cathy Reply

    Ive been using them on my newborn sons belly button. 🙁 I bought mine at target. Theyre the up & up brand.

  13. AELEIS Reply


  14. cynthia Reply

    I have ms and i’ve been using the pads also but I had to have surgery on my back last June and after that I started clawing myself and then we started noticing the right side of my stomach and I started looking like somebody deform.I went to my ms doctor and they let me know ms don’t work that way.So then the stomach doctor and still nothing.So now went to family doctor for a checkup and I had real bad bacteria in my bladder so now i’m having to go for ultrasound to see what it shows. When I said the right side of my stomach don;t look right it looks flat with the skin hanging and the left side is right.And I used the pads and notice places BUT who would think about a bacteria in your alcohol..

  15. kelly Reply

    my son is suffering from this right now, went in and got childhood immunizations and 2.5 months later wound wont heal and has puss oozing out… Doctors kept saying its normal to have a reaction to shots…
    well they arent saying that any longer…

  16. velma Reply

    Another day of my stomach hurting, UTI, earache, red face, breathing difficulties, irritability, Copaxone user, MS & have a compromised immune system. Wondering the effects on bones and joints, spinal cord, central nervous system liver, heart lungs, is death imminent?

  17. Shannon Reply

    Alcohol is not effective against bacillus spores

  18. Shannon Reply

    I have been using these alcohol swabs for over a year off and on. I don’t use them for injections but to clean my face after work. For almost a year I have been getting a rash around my stomach and chest. I have a couple of pads left from my third or fourth box I purchased. I went to see my doctor a few months ago about the rash and she said it looked like a fungus type rash and prescribed an anti fungal cream. The cream made it go away for awhile but the rash kept coming back. I never stopped using the alcohol pads because I thought they were safe and didn’t know where the rash was coming from. I thought the rash could be from the the six fish oil pills I take a day for high cholesterol. I started using them both around the same time, now that I think about it. I just thought the fish oil was causing the rash. I never thought it could be the alcohol swabs. Can you please tell me if this is one of the symptoms and what I can do to make sure I didn’t get permanent damaged from these possibly infected swabs???



  19. Lisa Reply

    My husband has been using Triad Adhesive removers on his ostomy site are they safe or in the recall also?

  20. Dawn Reply

    Today, 03/10/2011 I found out about the recall, by accident! I have been administering my Copaxone shot daily with the enclosed Triad alcohol wipes ever since I began using Copaxone (2007.) Last night was the last time I used the alcohol wipe and the new box of Copaxone that I picked up from the pharmacy was on 02/26/2011. There are no words for me to properly express my frustration. My injection sites started hurting more and I didn’t know why, this coupled with nausea and headaches, dry heaves (pardon me) stomach issues x10, has been more than disconcerting. Now I need to contact Rite Aid’s corporate office and ask them if they are aware that they are dispensing a product that contains a recalled product within it and what is their protocol for such an occurence. I would love it if someone were to tell me I now have the “new” product and what I received was not part of the recall but I fear this is not the case. I have been living on Pepto and this is really upsetting.

  21. SamCat Reply

    Did I miss the answer to the first post. Are these not self steralizing?

    Also, I still have some in my posession I am using. It explains much. I am fair skin, thought it was just from that. Will pursue more comments later.

    Apology if spelling is bad. Do not wish to be stereotyped. Not the place.

  22. Hellen Reply

    I just purchased a box of alcohol prep swabs from CVS pharmacy, are
    they safe? Has all the contaminated products been removed from stores
    by now?

  23. Stephanie Reply

    I too have MS and have been taking Copaxone since my dx 8 years ago. I have had site reactions such as swelling, redness, piting of my skin, itchiness….About 24 hours after an injection in my hip, I began to experience burning and pain in my hip. When I checked the site, I had developed a half-dollar size deep purple spot that was surrounded by a lighter purple colored ring. The darkest part, the center became raised and warm to the touch….never a good sign. I became rather alarmed since it was my guess that I had an infection. My gp confirmed this and put me on a cycle of cipro. It is 2 weeks later and the spot has shrunk but the center is now a gray color and numb. I am concerned that this spot is dead skin and that what will be left is a disgusting scar. Taking Copaxone is challenging enough but this really makes it much worse.

  24. Terry Reply

    I have been using copaxone for my ms therapy since 2000. it is sad to think that Triad would be so reckless. I have had several of the complications listed in the articles I have read. I worry about the long term and permanent problems. I have been on the therapy for 11 years.

  25. linda Reply

    on feb,11 2011 i wrote about my daughter who has ms and has had a lot of problems since August of 2010, she is still having problems and since then she has developed an eye infection that seems to linger on even after being treated. still no real answer as to why she has been so sick, and her neurologist told her that these symptons are not ms! still not able to eat much and lots of weight loss.are the prep pads causing all this?

  26. Renee Reply

    A rebuttal to Peter who stated that Triad makes BD Alcohol Swabs…I just got off the phone with both Triad and BD. Triad confirmed they have no affiliation with nor do they distribute anything for BD Consumer Healthcare. BD Consumer Healthcare confirmed that their alcohol swabs are NOT part of the recall, pose no threat whatsoever, and are manufactured and distributed ONLY by Becton Dickinson and Co. BD alcohol swabs are totally safe to use. I’ve been using them for a few years now and have never had any problem with them at all. BD alcohol swabs are in short supply right now; my mail order pharmacy Medco is totally out of them until further notice. I did, however, find some on eBay that are fresh, not seconds or rejects, and the seller is a reputable pharmacy. 100ct for less than $3.00. I hope everyone feels better. Oh, BTW, BD alcohol swabs are labelled “Made in USA” for those of you who only buy American and who don’t think America sucks.

  27. dianne Reply

    am on interferon and have used wipes, have got an infection in one of my injection sites that is so painful and seems to be getting worse from the inside of my tummy, antibiotics arent working nor the cream. Have felt so ill for so long now. Am not having the itching that everyone talks about but i think thats with MS sufferers, i have melanoma , not sure if that makes any differance. Hope yu all get better soon .

  28. carol Reply

    I have type 1 diabetes and I use thes alcohol pads also. I have has some soreness around the area I clean before injection. I sometimes last 2-3 days. I purchased 3 boxes of pads and did not know they were recalled and I am concerned about my health.

  29. moonlightmagik Reply

    Ah, duh they were made here, NOT China!

  30. E. C. Cornell Reply

    I will buy ReliOn Alcohol Swabs with Pain Relief from anyone who still has their box because my insulin injections are painful. I have tried several benzocaine creams, ointments and even oral pain relief, but only the Reli-on pads provide a true numbing effect.

  31. Angela Reply

    I have MS and used the swabs that came with my Copaxone injections. In mid-November I suddenly became very sick after feeling strong, healthy, and active for some time. I was so weak that I was in bed for a week with a constant fever of 102 even while alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I had a bad sore throat that I thought was strep but the test was negative, headaches, some vomiting, and couldn’t eat much for a week. First the doctors thought it was viral, but after not getting well or improving after a week, they gave me antibiotics and I got better. I have had Hepatitis A before with complete exhaustion and this was very reminiscent of that to me.

  32. Dennis Reply

    I used this product about 4 months ago been sorry for it ever since ,
    I walked on a staple driving it into my foot I used the swab to clean the area the next morning my foot was covered in water blisters ( like a burn ) another day went by and the blisters started to peel exposing the bone in one toe and layer’s of skin from the bottom of my foot ,
    so over the last 4 months I’ve been running back and forth to the hospital for bandage changes and cleaning twice a week plus two different antibiotics , the hospital is 35 miles away ,,

  33. Edward Reply

    I was receiving injections for several months and in january when I used the pads provided in my medication shippment, after the injection I thought I was on fire. I then got these horribble blisters that itched like nothing else i have every had. They spread and then became open soars which wouldn’t heal. Went to doctors and specials to no avail. I know have scaring from this. It still reappears at times. It is now believed it interfeared with my injections for Hepc and went from a 53 viral load to over 3 million. We don’t know what to do… We had used 2 prior to be notified by anyone that they could be tainted. Thats sad…

  34. Deborah Reply

    Not sure but would this contamination be with the Reli on Swabs with pain relief sold at Walmart. I been using them for a while you have me scared. Should I stop. Please respond asap.

  35. Nancy Reply

    I am a Nurse and have been on Copaxone for 13+ years. In December 2011 i experienced a serious skin reaction that initially looked like a bad bruise, turned purple then black. Eventually formed what looked like a scab but was actually eschar. I have had 3 debridements to remove dead tissue and now i am left a numb arm (from nerve damage) and a nasty scar. I have not worked for 2 months due to pain, multiple medical appointments and drug induced Hepititis.(from abx, pain meds, lyrica, vitamins and tylenol.) There are 2 other patients who are getting wound treatment for the same symptom caused from Copaxone but do not want to talk because they dont want to go off the med. By the way…..I use clean skin right after a shower and DO NOT use alcohol pads. TEVA did tell me there have been some skin necrosis cases but nothing more. I am looking for otheres to speak to re;similar symptoms. Maybe create a group on Facebook?

  36. Dennis Reply

    Back in 2011 I used the Swab , I got infected the skin redden , blistered like a burn then started to fall of when I went to a Hospital the doctor told me I had Diabeties in my foot , i told him about the swab and asked for a test he said no it’s diabeties and has to be removed , I seen someone elde and asked for a test he performed a MRI and there was no sign of Diabeties , I was given a antibiotic and sent home , as of today my foot is still bad ,

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