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Costa Rica Is Warning Everyone To Stop Drinking Alcohol As 19 People Have Died Due To Tainted Alcohol

Costa Ricans are on edge after 19 people have been died because of tainted alcochol. According to authorities, each of the victims died after drinking alcohol with toxic levels of methanol.

So far 14 men and five women, in several cities across the country, have died.

As of now, there have been 19 deaths across Costa Rica related to tainted alcohol.

Credit: @ABC / Twitter

At least 19 people have died in Costa Rica after consuming alcohol contaminated with toxic levels of methanol, officials said.

The victims, who ranged from 32 to 72 in age, consumed the tainted alcohol in various cities across the country dating back to early last month, the country’s Ministry of Health revealed over the weekend.

They each died from what appeared to be methanol poisoning. The fatalities occurred in San José, Cartago, Limón, Guanacaste and Heredia.

“It is important to emphasize that this information is preliminary since the investigations continue,” the statement 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.”

The government is so concerned they’ve started confiscating huge amounts of alcohol from restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Government officials confiscated more than 30,000 bottles of alcohol suspected to be tainted, the ministry said in a statement on Friday, warning residents to avoid several brands that tested positive for contamination.

They’re also telling people to avoid consuming alcohol from a number of specific brands until they’re sure it’s safe.

Until authorities can figure out exactly what is going on and which brands or types of alcohol are affected, the government is urging all people in Costa Rica to hold off from consuming alcohol for now.

Though the government did release a list of suspected brands (which you should definitely avoid) and they include Molotov, Timbuka, and Aguardiente.

Alcohol poisoning, particularly from methanol, can make people feel really drunk really fast, not giving them time to realize something might be wrong.

Credit: @NYDailyNews / Twitter

Adulterated liquor often contains methanol, which can make people feel inebriated. Adding methanol to distilled spirits enables sellers to increase the amount of liquid and its potential potency, according to SafeProof, a group that lobbies against counterfeit alcohol.

Methanol poisoning can cause confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches and the inability to coordinate muscle movements. Even small amounts can be toxic. According to the World Health Organization, outbreaks of methanol poisoning are usually linked to “adulterated counterfeit or informally-produced spirit drinks.”

Costa Rica isn’t alone Outbreaks have happened around the world.

Outbreaks have hit countries around the world in recent years, each ranging in size from 20 to over 800 victims, WHO reports. This year, at least 154 people died and more than 200 others were hospitalized after drinking tainted alcohol in India. The victims consumed unregulated moonshine, known as “country-made liquor” in the northeast state of Assam.

Twitter was quick to start jumping to conclusions.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Many on Twitter started linking the news out of Costa Rica to the recent string of suspicious deaths in the Dominican Republic. Although some victims families (of those who have died in the DR) have speculated that their deaths were caused by alcohol poisoning, authorities haven’t yet confirmed that. So it’s definitely too soon to connect the dots here.

So how do you stay safe when you’re traveling but want to enjoy that tasty tropical cocktail or the local specialty?

Credit: @MeriAssociates / Twitter

So how do you stay safe when you’re drinking abroad and living out that vacation fantasy? First, pay attention to what you’re buying. Look at the price (is it too cheap?) and packaging (is it sealed?) of the product. If it tastes bad, don’t drink it. Additionally, according to the U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council, follow these guidelines:

  1. Don’t drink homemade or counterfeit “booze.”
  2. Don’t overdo it.
  3. Don’t compete with locals and their brew.
  4. Don’t let your drink out of sight.

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