Nineteen people have died in Costa Rica after consuming tainted alcohol with toxic levels of methanol. The Ministry of Health has issued a national alert, reports KTLA. Since the beginning of June, a total of fourteen men and five women between the ages of 32 and 72 years have died. Tainted alcohol was found in San Jose, Cartago, Limon, Guanacaste and Heredia.

30,000 bottles have been confiscated

A total of 30,000 bottles of alcohol suspected to be tainted have been confiscated by the government. This has impacted several brands including Guaro Montano, Guaro Gran Apache, Star Welsh, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka and Aguardiente Molotov. The health ministry stated that several of these brands can be legally sold in Costa Rica. This implies that counterfeit products are circulating in the country.

Costa RIca
Costa Rica

The Ministry of Health has advised people to not consume alcohol from a number of brands because samples have tested positive for methanol adulteration. Generally, adulterated liquor contains methanol which creates the sensation of inebriation. Additionally, methanol is added to distilled spirits to increase the amount of liquid and its potential potency. This is why sellers sometimes choose to add it. Even small amounts can be toxic. Further, health authorities in Costa Rica have asked the public to exercise caution when consuming alcohol.

Side effects of methanol poisoning

Methanol poisoning causes a number of effects including:

  • Confusion,
  • Dizziness,
  • Drowsiness,
  • Headaches and
  • The inability to coordinate muscle movements

Costa Rican officials said “The Ministry of Health continues to carry out operations throughout the national territory in order to reduce the exposure of consumers to adulterated products.”

According to WHO, outbreaks of methanol poisoning are mostly linked to “adulterated counterfeit or informally-produced spirit drinks.” In the recent past, outbreaks have hit many countries. Victims have ranged from the size of 20-800 according to WHO.

This year, 154 people died in Assam after consuming tainted alcohol. 200 others were hospitalised. The victims consumed unregulated moonshine, known as “country-made liquor.”

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