Costa Rica Issues National Health Alert After Tainted Alcohol Kills 20 People — Here’s What Travelers Need to Know
Updated: July 24, 2019
The Costa Rican Health Ministry confirmed that 20 people have died from consuming alcohol that was tainted with methanol since early June.
The investigation is ongoing, but as of Monday, the Costa Rica Ministry of Health reports that 15 men and five women died after drinking the tainted liquor. The victims range in age from 32 to 72 years old.
A total of 41 people are believed to have consumed the tainted alcohol, according to USA Today. Of those who died from the alcohol 18 were Costa Ricans, one was from Nicaragua, and the latest victim has not yet been identified.
In response, health officials have issued a formal alert as over 30,000 bottles of potentially tainted alcohol have been confiscated. The World Health Organization notes on their website that methanol poisoning is a “relatively common form of mass poisoning” and that methanol may be added to informally-produced alcohol as a means to boost alcohol content or increase profit margins.
Brands being confiscated in Costa Rica include Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Guaro Montano, Aguardiente Estrella, Guaro Gran Apache, Aguardiente Timbuka, and Molotov Aguardiente, according to The Tico Times. However, the health ministry says that several of the brands can be legally sold in Costa Rica, meaning that counterfeit products are circulating in the country.
The Costa Rican Health Ministry asks people to avoid consuming or purchasing the brands listed above and to reach out to the ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org if you experience symptoms like acute abdominal pain, acute headache, and a loss of physical coordination.