Update: Costa Rica 2 More Deaths Due to Suspected Alcohol Poisoning

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
August 19, 2019International
Update: Costa Rica 2 More Deaths Due to Suspected Alcohol Poisoning
Liquor bottles (Lisa Runnels/Pixabay)

The death toll of people who died of alcohol poisoning in Costa Rica has risen to 25 this month with 59 people hospitalized.

Of the victims, 19 were men and 6 women, ranging from 32 to 72 years of age, according to the website of the Health Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health.

Most of the deaths, seven people, occurred in the capital city, San Jose. Elsewhere, one person died in Alajuela, two in Heredia, five were from Cartago, three were in Guanacaste, one in Puntarenas, and four died in Limón. Two other cases are still under investigation.

Most likely, the poisoning was caused by methanol alcohol-containing counterfeit products that were sold as real brands of distilled liquor.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine describes methanol as “a light, volatile, colourless, flammable, poisonous liquid with a distinctive odor that is somewhat milder and sweeter than ethanol.”

Costa Rica has a reputation being one of the safest countries in Central America for travelers.

To date, no tourists have been reported among the victims of the tainted booze. The US Embassy stated that it was “not aware of any US citizen illness or death due to consuming adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica” in a safety alert.

So far, some 55,000 bottles of potentially tainted alcohol were confiscated by authorities, which affected several brands.

At least 10 establishments in San José and Alajuela have been closed by the authorities.

NTD Photo
At least 25 people have died across Costa Rica after consuming tainted alcohol, the country’s Ministry of Health said in a national alert (Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health)

The ministry called on people not to consume or buy “Guaro Gran Apache,” “Red Star Brandy,” “Guaro Montano,” “Red Baron Brandy,” “Timbuka Brandy,” or “Molotov Brandy,” according to a translation.

“It is suspected that in the national market, counterfeit products of these brands [are circulating],” the agency said.

The agency added that samples from the alcohol tested positive for methanol, CNN reported.

Methanol can make people feel intoxicated, but it can also cause poisoning, says Medicine Plus. The chemical is found in antifreeze, paint thinner, varnish, canned heating sources, copy machine fluids, windshield wiper fluid, and other products.

Methanol poisoning symptoms include blurred vision, blindness, breathing difficulties or “no breathing,” low blood pressure, confusion, dizziness, seizures, coma, bloody vomiting, and other adverse symptoms, the website says.

“Methanol is extremely poisonous. As little as 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) can be deadly to a child. About 2 to 8 ounces (60 to 240 milliliters) can be deadly for an adult. Blindness is common and often permanent despite medical care. Intake of methanol affects multiple organs. Organ damage may be permanent. How well the person does depends on how much poison is swallowed and how soon treatment is received,” the site says.

Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report

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