By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Malaysia Ministry of Health is reporting a methanol poisoning cluster believed linked to counterfeit  alcohol.

Image/Malaysia MOH

For the period of June 11 to June 21, 2019, where three methanol poisoning clusters reported to the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Center (CPRC).

The incidents involved 19 cases from the following states: Penang (8), Johor (6) and Negeri Sembilan (5). The cause of the methanol poisoning was believed to be due to the counterfeit liquor branded by Myanmar Whiskey, Miludeer Beer, Whiskey 99 and Martens Extra Strong.

The cluster of methanol poisoning in Penang began June 11, 2019, involving eight Myanmar citizens. Two of the cases have died. They have been drinking Myanmar branded Whiskey. The drink is purchased from the same seller who sells directly at the premises where these poisoning victims are working. On June 21, 2019, one methanol poisoning case was still being treated at a Penang hospital in critical condition, while five others were discharged.

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In the state of Johor, reporting of methanol poisoning cases has been received since 18 June 2019. It involves six cases, three Malaysians and one Pakistani, Nepalese and Indian, respectively. Three of the cases involved were found to drink a drink believed to be counterfeit branded Miludeer Beer. While other cases are unidentifiable to be taken as the patient is hospitalized in critical condition. Four of the cases of methanol poisoning have died. On 21 June 2019, one case was still being treated at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) in critical condition and one more reported cases of blurred vision were being treated in a regular ward at Sultan Ismail Hospital, Johor Bahru, Johor .

The Negeri Sembilan Health Department (JKNNS) reported one methanol poisoning cluster on June 20, 2019 involving five cases from the Port Dickson district including two deaths. It involves three Malaysians, one Indian citizen and one Myanmar citizen. Investigations found cases involved drinking alcoholic beverages allegedly branded Miludeer Beer (2 cases), Whisky 99 (1 case) and Martens Extra Strong (1 case), while one case had no brand information. On June 21, 2019, three cases were being treated at Port Dickson Hospital, two critical cases and one case in a regular ward.

Clinical samples were taken from all 19 cases for methanol test analysis. The results showed five positive cases of methanol and one negative case of methanol but showed symptoms and clinical signs of methanol poisoning. Laboratory results for the remaining 13 cases are still pending.

The Penang State Health Department, Negeri Sembilan and the State of Johor have collaborated with the Royal Malaysian Police and Royal Malaysian Customs in an investigation to identify the sources of the counterfeit alcoholic drink.

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The MOH continues to monitor the situation and take preventative and control measures to address these methanol poisoning incidents. Consumers are advised to ensure that each purchased alcohol product has a label that contains complete manufacturer, importer, agent and listing information.

Consumers are also advised to avoid consuming home-brewed alcoholic beverages or alcohol being sold at low prices, or doubtful.

MOH advises the general public, if individuals who have symptoms of methanol intoxication such as stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, headache, vision loss within five days of alcoholic drink to seek immediate treatment at any clinic or the closest hospital.

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