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Portable device to reveal methanol poisoning within minutes

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Brno, Sept 4 (CTK) – A newly developed portable device only takes a few minutes to reveal methanol poisoning, Ema Wiesnerova from the press department of Masaryk University in Brno, which developed the device in collaboration with Prague’s Watrex company, told CTK on Monday.

In the past weekend, the Czech Republic marked five years passing from the outbreak of the methanol affair, which claimed the lives of 48 people who died as a result of poisoning following the consumption of bootleg spirits.

Petr Kuban, head of the team at the Faculty of Science of Masaryk University and a member of the university’s Central European Institue of Technology (CEITEC), said the present diagnostic method “is complicated and requires a specialised device and trained staff. This is why we have applied at the Czech Technological Agency for a grant on the development of a portable device which can be used in the terrain and without special knowledge”, Kuban said.

The device operates on the principle of methanol or foric acid reaction with a reagent, while the change of the optical properties of the reagent is measured.

“A sample of a patient’s blood is inserted into the device and the result is displayed within five minutes… A green light indicates everything is all right, while an orange or red one signals poisoning,” Kuban explained.

Heavy methanol poisoning leads to malfunction of consciousness and sight, with the risk of causing blindness and even death.

Between September 2012 and February 2014, 48 people died and the health of tens of others was ruined due to the consumption of bootleg spirits in the Czech Republic. In connection with the affair, charges were lodged against more than seventy people, resulting in a number of convictions, including life imprisonment.

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