20 students treated for methanol poisoning - Sabah Health Dept
KOTA KINABALU - The Sabah Health Department (JKNS) has confirmed that a total of 20 students from a secondary school in Pitas suffered from methanol poisoning.
State Health (Public Health) deputy director Dr Asits Sanna said these students have received treatment so far.
Eight of them had symptoms of methanol poisoning.
"Out of these eight cases, the condition of two students has worsened as they are in need of respiratory assistance. "Both were sent to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Queen Elizabeth I Hospital (HQE1) and the ICU of Queen Elizabeth II Hospital (HQEII) separately yesterday.
"Five more cases were sent to HQE on the same day for further treatment, and one student is still being treated at Pitas Hospital. "Meanwhile, 12 asymptomatic cases were admitted to the Pitas Hospital ward for further monitoring and treatment," he said.
He also said samples were taken to confirm the presence of methanol in the blood, urine, and spirit proxy, but the cause of the incident was still under investigation.
"The department will constantly monitor the condition of the victims and will work with the school, State Education Department (JPNS), and Pitas District Education Office (PPD) to conduct further investigations into the incident and to come up with preventive measures to prevent such incidents from repeating," he said.
He also said that methanol is a type of alcohol commonly used as an organic solvent.
"Methanol also goes by other names, which are methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, or spirit.
"At room temperature, methanol is a light, volatile, colourless, flammable liquid with a unique, slightly sweet odour and is lighter than ethanol (drinkable alcohol).
"In addition to being an organic solvent, in the industrial world, methanol is also used as antifreeze coolant, cleaning solution for car windscreens, carburetor liquid, paint solvent, varnish, fuel, and as an additive for the ethanol industry," he said.
Methanol poisoning can be caused by misusing methanol as an ingredient in making alcoholic drinks, Asit added.
"A person suffering from methanol poisoning may not show any symptoms for a period of one to 72 hours after consumption.
"However, symptoms will manifest faster if methanol is consumed in large quantities and slower if it is ingested in small quantities or together with ethanol.
The department has advised the public on the dangers of consuming uncertified and contaminated liquor.
"If you experience signs of methanol poisoning such as stomach ache, vomiting, headache, or blurred vision after consuming alcoholic beverages, please immediately seek treatment at the nearest health facilities," he said.
It was reported previously that two Form Five students were in critical condition while 18 of their friends, aged 13 to 17 years old, were receiving treatment in the hospital after drinking carbonated drinks mixed with spirit.