Methanol mass poisoning in Iran: role of case finding in outbreak management

J Public Health (Oxf). 2015 Jun;37(2):354-9. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdu038. Epub 2014 Jun 18.


Background: There are no guidelines addressing the public health aspects of methanol poisoning during larger outbreaks. The current study was done to discuss the role of active case finding and a national guideline that organizes all available resources according to a triage strategy in the successful management of a methanol mass poisoning in Rafsanjan, Iran, in May 2013.

Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional study was performed reviewing the outbreak Emergency Operation Center files. The objectives were to describe the characteristics, management and outcome of a methanol outbreak using Active Case Finding to trace the victims.

Results: A total of 694 patients presented to emergency departments in Rafsanjan after public announcement of the outbreak between 29th May and 3rd June 2013. The announcement was mainly performed via short message service (SMS) and local radio broadcasting. A total of 361 cases were observed and managed in Rafsanjan and 333 were transferred to other cities. Seventy-five and 100 patients underwent hemodialysis (HD), retrospectively. The main indication for HD was refractory metabolic acidosis. Eight patients expired due to the intoxication. Except for the deceased cases, no serum methanol level was available.

Conclusion: In developing countries, where diagnostic resources are limited, use of active case finding and developing national guidelines can help in the management of large outbreaks of methanol poisonings.

Keywords: epidemics; intoxication; methanol; mortality; outbreak; poisoning.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Methanol / poisoning*
  • Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Poisoning / mortality
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Methanol