Hossein Hassanian-Moghaddam

Associate Professor Hossein Hassanian-Moghaddam MD, FACMT has over 20 years’ experience working as a clinical toxicologist at Loghman-Hakim Hospital (Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Science; Tehran, Iran), the biggest university-affiliated poison center internationally. He has also served as advisor to the Iranian Ministry of Health.

His clinical practice focuses on the treatment of poisoning/overdose from opioids, toxic alcohols, stimulants, and pharmaceutical agents. His main research interests are antidotes the for treatment of opioid overdose and opioid and stimulant poisoning in children. Dr Hassanian-Moghaddam has published more than 200 English-language, peer-reviewed abstracts and articles in scientific journals and international congresses.

Double trouble: Methanol outbreak in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran

Aims: The COVID-19 pandemic in Iran has been complicated by the co-occurrence of a large methanol outbreak, seemingly triggered by false claims that consumption of disinfectants and alcohols could prevent and treat COVID-19 infection. We aimed to assess the scale of the methanol outbreak in Iran, both in terms of hospitalizations and fatalities.

Methods: For the purpose of this cross-sectional study, hospitalization and mortality data for cases with methanol poisoning were collated from the national databases of the Iranian Ministry of Health (MOH) and Legal Medicine Organization (LMO) for the period of February 23rd (date of first documented COVID-19 case in Iran) until May 2nd, 2020.

Results: During the study period, 5,876 patients were hospitalized with methanol poisoning, of whom 534 (9.1%) died in the hospital setting. In total, 800 deaths from methanol poisoning were registered by the Legal Medicine Organization throughout the country, comprising in-hospital and community-based fatalities.

Conclusion: The Iranian methanol outbreak in the wake of the COVID pandemic is globally the largest documented in history. In addition to 800 deaths, many more non-fatal cases, adults and children are now vision-impaired or blind from this toxic alcohol. In-depth knowledge of methanol poisonings is required to build a proper preparedness system for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Presentation slides: Double trouble: Methanol outbreak in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran