Mass Methanol poisoning in the Czech Republic in 2012



Year of publication 2016
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Medicine

Description Methanol poisoning in Forensic Medicine has been rarely seen in the Czech Republic before 2012. Almost all of those rare cases were due to mistaking a high content alcoholic beverages for methanol solution – for instance drinking a presumed ethanol stored in an unlabeled container. This mistake resulted in poisoning of one or more people and had a high mortality. The cause of death was evident after toxicology examination following poor autopsy findings. The lethal concentration of methanol was determined in blood samples using the method of gas chromatography. In September 2012 there was a mass criminal methanol poisoning caused by adding the methanol into alcoholic beverages in order to increase the profit by the producer. There were high content alcohol bottles distributed with the ratio of ethanol to methanol up to 1:1. The ethanol portion affected the progress of the poisoning, therefore the death did not occur immediately and most of the patients were admitted to the hospital. Nevertheless the overall mortality was over 30 %. Toxicology examinations of the blood samples from both living and dead did not always detect methanol, but only its metabolite (formic acid). All of the toxicology laboratories in the Czech Republic were overloaded with examination demands. Main ways of treating the methanol poisoning was ethanol, fomepizole and hemodialysis. The state authority issued an official regulation which prohibited alcoholic beverages over 20 % alcohol by volume for two weeks to investigate the origin. The mass poisoning in 2012 caused at least 49 deaths. There were many accuseds and two main alcohol producers were sentenced to life imprisonment.

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