Outbreak: Leather Spray & Respiratory Illness
Product: Wilson's Leather SprayInvestigation Start Date: 12/27/1992
Location: OR, WAEtiology: Acute Respiratory Illness
Earliest known case onset date: 12/21/1992Latest case onset date: 12/31/1992
Presumptive Case Count: 84Positive Samples: 0
Hospitalizations: 6Deaths: 0


On December 27th, 1992, reports filtered in over the course of several days that people were becoming ill following the use of an aerosol leather conditioner. Symptoms reported included prolonged cough, shortness of breath, pleuritic chest pain, headaches, malaise, chills, and fever. In total, reports increased to 400 persons, involving approximately 550 persons. The product, Wilson’s Leather Protector, was recalled by mid-day on December 27th. Six people were hospitalized.

“Acute Respiratory Illness Linked to Use of Aerosol Leather Conditioner” (CDC outbreak page).
“Acute lung injury induced by a commercial leather conditioner” (Peer-reviewed publication)

From the Annals of the IOM

Episode 7: Wilsons Leather Spray. Click the play button to view our informational video on this outbreak!

Wilsons Leather Spray can.
Oregonian piece partway through the outbreak.
Symptoms included prolonged cough, shortness of breath, and pleuritic chest pain. Many persons also reported headaches, malaise, chills, and fever as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit!
Following the public recall, as of December 31st, the number of preliminary reports to the Oregon Health Division and Oregon Poison Center of illness associated with use of this spray, increased to 400 and involved approximatey 550 persons in at least 17 states.
The technology was different, but it got the job done!