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Published On: Sun, Aug 4th, 2013

Eleven dead and dozens hospitalized in Havana from methanol poisoning after drinking poisonous rum

Some 40 people have been hospitalized in the Cuban capital of Havana while another 11 have died after drinking illegal methyl alcohol, or wood alcohol, sold as traditional Cuban rum, according to a BBC report Friday.

Image/CIA

Image/CIA

The report notes that the methanol was stolen from a government department and the lethal alcohol was sold as rum. Two employees from the Cuban Institute of Pharmacy and Food are being investigated.

The 11 people who have died were aged between 37 and 58 and lived in the La Lisa district of Havana.

Methanol (wood alcohol) is produced from the destructive distillation of wood. Epidemics of methanol toxicity have resulted from the consumption of methanol-contaminated whiskey or other alcohol products. The formation of 2 toxic metabolites, formaldehyde and formic acid, causes methanol poisoning, ProMed Mail reports.

Methanol is widely available in formulations including antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, Sterno canned heat, shellacs, various paints, paint removers, varnishes, duplicating fluids, and gasoline additives.

Fatalities have been reported after ingestion of 15 ml or 3 teaspoons of a 40 per cent solution, although 30 ml is generally considered a minimal lethal dose. With aggressive medical care, it is possible to survive the ingestion of 500-600 ml. However, consumption of as little as 10 ml may cause blindness, depending on the amount and individual tolerance.

Clinical signs may include headache, vertigo, lethargy, and confusion, which are common in mild to moderate ethanol intoxications. Coma and convulsions appear in severe cases, probably as a result of cerebral edema. Methanol produces little to no euphoria, unlike ethanol.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. The F Word of Brewing is Methanol : StevenClark.com.au says:

    […] bars in Bali. So beware drinking cocktails in Bali. There’s also the recent case in Cuba where 11 died, but this was from intentional bottling of methanol to be sold as traditional rum. Certainly not a […]

  2. Morgan's Barn Mead » Blog Archive » The F Word of Brewing is Methanol says:

    […] sell to tourists. So beware drinking cocktails in Bali. There’s also the recent case in Cuba where 11 died, but this was from intentional bottling of methanol to be sold as traditional rum. Certainly not a […]

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