Nearly a month after Costa Rica put out a national alert to warn residents and visitors of 19 deaths caused by counterfeit alcohol, that death toll has now risen to 25. Furthermore, a total of 59 people have been affected by the tainted booze.
A press release from the Ministry of Health's website stated that 19 men and six women, with ages ranging from 32 to 72, have died due to alcohol poisoning since June. An earlier list of brands to avoid: Guaro Montano, Guaro Gran Apache, Aguardiente Estrella, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka and Molotov Aguardiente. But now a newer list says that: Guaro Chonete, Guaro Cuerazo, Guaro Sacheto, Red Star Brandy, Brandy Red Barnacle, Brandy Timbuka and Brandy Molotov may have also been affected (and should therefore be avoided).
In response to the outbreak, the Ministry of Health has shut down 10 establishments and seized over 55,000 containers of alcohol (up from 30,000 in July) that they believe to be laced with methanol, which is found in antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid. Yahoo News (citing SafeProof, an organization that tries to combat counterfeit alcohol) says that adding methanol to distilled beverages can increase volume and potency.
Safeproof adds that ingesting a small amount can be lethal. As for symptoms from methanol poisoning, some of the more severe ones include: headaches, dizziness, blindness, and death.
Similarly, a series of U.S. tourists deaths in the Dominican Republic might also be linked to toxic alcohol. Newsweek reports that that country has started to conduct semi-annual food and beverage investigations at a number of their hotels and resorts. The FBI is also currently running toxicology tests on a pair of American tourists who died in the DR earlier this year.