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The Costa Rica Ministry of Health has confirmed the death of 20 people from drinking alcohol that was tainted with methanol since the beginning of June. On Monday, the Ministry issued a statement saying that 15 men and five women, ranging in age from 32 to 72 years old, died after drinking tainted liquor.

Travel consultant Leigh Ann Cloutier with Namu Travel Group stresses that no tourists have been impacted. “Travel to Costa Rica is extremely safe, and as always we suggest you use your normal criteria of selecting dining and drinking establishments much as you would in your own hometown,” she says. “I have had inquiries about this but no cancellations. Intel tells us the tainted Guaro is cheap moonshine and not used by our partners, so we’re not alarmed by this.”

In response to the deaths, health officials have issued an alert as more than 30,000 bottles of potentially tainted alcohol have been confiscated. These brands include Aguardiente Baron Rojo, Guaro Montano, Aguardiente Estrella, Guaro Gran Apache, Aguardiente Timbuka, and Aguardiente Molotov. The Costa Rican Health Ministry asks people to avoid consuming or purchasing the brands listed above and to reach out to the ministry at denuncias.drpis@misalud.go.cr if symptoms like acute abdominal pain, acute headache, and a loss of physical coordination are experienced.

The World Health Organization addresses the issue of mass poisoning with methanol on its website. “This may be added to illicit or informally-produced alcoholic drinks in order to boost the alcohol content. Sometimes there is no overt chemical release, and it is only when people start showing signs and symptoms of poisoning that the possibility of a release is suspected.”

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