Published Friday, January 8, 202154 dead due to methanol
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The Health Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health reported on Thursday that 99 patients were treated in public hospitals due to methanol poisoning after drinking tainted liquor, of which 54 died, 6 this month and 48 in 2020.
Among the deceased are 46 men and eight women, ages ranging from 23 to 82-years-old. The majority of cases were registered in the provinces of San José with 23 reported dead, followed by Alajuela with six deaths.
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. Almost 1,000 liquor stores have been inspected and more than 17,000 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 aforementioned brands until the alert is lifted.
• The sale of these products is forbidden until the alert is lifted.
• Report the sales of any of the mentioned products 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.
In 2019, 76 people were treated for poisoning by drinking methanol-tainted liquor, where 29 people died, according to the ministry.
Health authorities ask for people to report any suspicion of these liquor brands on sale, to the Judicial Investigation Organization confidential line 800-8000-645, or send complaints by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the line for the ministry at 2223-0333.
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