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Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Neurology, Substance abuse, Toxicology

DEG Poisoning in the Middle East

DEG Poisoning in the Middle East

Military-DEG-fuelInvestigators in Qatar report 3 cases of diethylene glycol (DEG) poisoning in men who consumed “furnace fuel” for recreational purposes. (The furnace fuel was 100% DEG.) These case reports are notable for their emphasis on the highly variable neurologic manifestations of DEG poisoning; although the mechanism of DEG neurotoxicity remains elusive.

I find the case reports most evocative for the fact that they occurred in the Middle East through the recreational ingestion of furnace fuel. The authors provide some insight into the motivation for consuming an industrial solution where alcohol (ethanol) consumption is forbidden.

Influenced by cultural and religious factors such [as] prohibition of alcohol consumption in Islam, alcohol is difficult to obtain in the Middle East in a cheap manner. Hence, individuals in low social ranks tend to use alcohol substitutes instead of ethanol for recreational purposes.

Image of DEG-containing military camping fuel from an Ebay seller.
bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.