Published Thursday, November 26, 2020
43 dead due to methanol
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The Health Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday that 83 patients were treated in public hospitals due to methanol poisoning after drinking tainted liquor.
Authorities said 43 of those people died.
Among the deceased are 38 men and five women, ages ranging from 23 to 75-years-old. The majority of cases were registered in San José downtown with 12 reported dead, followed by Puntarenas downtown with five dead.
So far, there have been no reports of international tourists being affected by the wave of deaths and illnesses.
Officials from the ministry continue to carry out the operations to confiscate liquors contaminated with methanol, where almost 700 liquor stores have been inspected and 16,453 units of smuggled liquor contaminated with methanol were seized.
Several cases of smuggled liquor contaminated with methanol have been recorded throughout the year. The ministry established a health alert on the following ten liquor brands:
• Guaro Chonete
• Guaro Cuerazo
• Guaro Sacheto
• Guaro Gran Apache
• Estrella Roja Aguardiente
• Guaro Montano
• Barón Rojo Aguardiente
• Timbuka Aguardiente
• Molotov Aguardiente
• Guaro Fiesta Blanca
Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, was originally produced by the distillation of wood, hence the name “wood alcohol.”
Methanol is sometimes created accidentally by bootleggers trying to produce ethanol, the type of alcohol usually found in beer, wine, and liquor. Sometimes, methanol is added to ethanol for boosting its effect.
Because of its toxic properties, methanol was frequently used as a denaturant additive for ethanol manufactured for industrial uses to prevent the liquid from being used for drinking.
Symptoms of methanol poisoning can develop almost immediately after consumption. Symptoms include rapid drunkenness, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, severe headache, and lack of coordination.
Specialists make the following recommendations:
• Do not drink or buy liquor of the brands mentioned above until the alert is lifted.
• The sale of these products are forbidden until the alert is lifted.
• If any person detects the sale of this product in any store, report it to the local police or 911 line.
If any person has had liquor from the aforementioned brands and is presenting health issues as severe vomiting, agitation, disorientation, blindness, or any other, immediately call 911.
Complaints should be made by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the line for the ministry at 2223-0333.
According to the ministry, 76 people were treated in 2019 for suspected poisoning by drinking liquor with methanol. Of those, 29 people died.
A.M. Costa Rica urges readers to share this alert with their contacts.
Have you seen any of these brands on sale in your community? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to email@example.com