The Methanol Poisoning Outbreaks in Libya 2013 and Kenya 2014

Outbreaks of methanol poisoning occur frequently on a global basis, affecting poor and vulnerable populations. Knowledge regarding methanol is limited, likely many cases and even outbreaks go unnoticed, with patients dying unnecessarily. The researchers, through this paper, describe findings from the first three large outbreaks of methanol poisoning where MSF responded, and evaluate the benefits of a possible future collaboration between local health authorities, a Non-Governmental Organisation and international expertise. For this purpose, data were collected from MSF field personnel, local health personnel, hospital files, and media reports. It was interpreted that recognition of an outbreak of methanol poisoning and diagnosis seem to be the most challenging tasks, with significant delay from time of first presentations to public health warnings being issued. Basic training, simplified treatment protocols, point-of-care diagnostic tools, and early support when needed, are likely the most important components to impact the consequences of methanol poisoning outbreaks in challenging contexts.

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