Health authorities have been on the alert since the beginning of October, when the first deaths from the contaminated alcohol were reported in the La Carpio area of western San José. There are a total of 52 suspected cases of poisoning in various regions of the country related to sugar cane alcohol, known by the local name guaro, the ministry said in a statement.
Health authorities on Thursday issued a warning for guaro under the Fiesta Blanca brand, on the assumption that methanol has been added to it. The Ministry of Health and the police have checked 49 salesmen to collect guaro samples for laboratory testing. On Thursday and Friday, police seized more than 14,000 bottles from the Guaro Fiesta Blanca distributor.
Deaths from drinking methanol-mixed alcohol occur occasionally in a range of countries, particularly in connection with illegal drinking. The World Health Organization says high concentrations of methanol can result from improper distillation or when it is added intentionally to fortify the drink.