Libya methanol poisoning outbreak death toll climbs

Vodka_Neat_blogThe number of people in Libya who have died from drinking alcohol contaminated with methanol has hit 87, the Associated Press reports.

The outbreak, which first was reported a week ago, has injured more than 1,000 people, Libya’s Health Minister has said. Additionally, 15 people have been blinded and others have suffered kidney failure or coma, according to AP.

The consumption and sale of alcohol is illegal in Libya; however, it can be bought and sold on the black market. People sickened in the outbreak began arriving at hospitals on March 7. Their ages ranged from 19 to 50 years old.

The Estonian Foreign Ministry has donated 7,000 euros to Doctors Without Borders to send a specialist to Libya to assist with the outbreak and to purchase needed antidotes and medication, Estonian Public Broadcasting reports.

Last fall, a methanol outbreak in the Czech Republic killed more than two dozen people and led to a temporary ban on hard liquor.

Methanol poisoning can result from improper distilling of spirits.

The effects of ingesting methanol include nausea and vomiting, confusion and vision difficulty or loss. In the most severe cases, it can lead to coma and death.

Methanol can be found in antifreeze, fuel additives and varnish, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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