So far 19 tourists have died since June after drinking tainted boot let alcohol in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican Health Ministry has now stated in a preliminary report that 14 men and five women passed away after they drank adulterated liquor.
The alcohol is suspected to be tainted with methanol. While methanol may occur naturally in fermented drinks, large amounts of methanol can severely damage a person’s overall health and often leads to death. In fact, just 2/3rds of a shot glass is enough to cause permanent blindness.
Associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Devi Nampiaparampil, states, “The problem with methanol is that it’s so much more dangerous than alcohol, it can make you blind, it can damage your kidneys, and you might not even realize this at first and then you can die.”
Liquor bootleggers tend to mix the methanol in to increase their profit margin. The error seems to occur when they think they’ve put in ethanol in the liquor but instead created methanol. Some of these liquors were known to have up to 50% methanol.
Costa Rica has now issued a national alert over the tainted liquor. So far, government officials have secured over 30,000 bottles from brands they suspect contain methanol.
Over Twitter, President Carlos Alvarado claims that he “deeply regrets” that lives were affected by this bootleg liquor tragedy and urged the Health Ministry to do what they can to find those responsible.