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Costa Rica reports more deaths from tainted alcohol; dengue cases on the rise

Two more people died last week due to methanol poisoning, Costa Rica’s Health Ministry reported.

The deaths, which occurred in Santa Bárbara de Heredia and Santa Cruz de Guanacaste, brought to 25 the number of people who have died since June as a result of tainted alcohol. The Health Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health says 59 people in total have suffered from methanol poisoning over that period.

The Health Ministry has expanded its health alert to include nine different brands of liquor. While the alert remains in effect, do not drink liquor sold under the following brands: “Guaro Montano;” “Guaro Chonete;” “Guaro Cuerazo;” “Guaro Sacheto;” “Guaro Gran Apache;” “Aguardiente Estrella Roja;” “Aguardiente Barón Rojo;” “Aguardiente Timbuka;” and “Aguardiente Molotov.”

Symptoms of methanol poisoning may not appear immediately. They include acute abdominal pain, acute headache and ataxia (lack of coordination of body movements), according to the Health Ministry.

The United States Embassy has said it is “not aware of any U.S. citizen illness or death due to consuming adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica.”

Costa Rican authorities have seized more than 55,000 bottles of liquor and closed 10 establishments suspected of selling tainted liquor.

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Dengue cases on the rise in Costa Rica

The Health Ministry is reporting a sharp uptick in dengue throughout Costa Rica,  particularly in the North Central and Huetar Caribbean zones, which alone have tallied 2,000 new cases in recent weeks.

The most affected cantons are: Sarapiquí (960 cases this year), Pococí (288), Guácimo (176) and Alajuela Central (165). The Health Ministry also highlighted Aguas Zarcas, Turrialba and Jacó as areas with rising affectation.

“Central America is suffering a significant rise of dengue cases, and our country is not far behind as we have a 160% increase in cases compared to 2018,” said the Director of Health Surveillance, Rodrigo Marín. “Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are the countries that report cases, including dozens of deaths. In this situation, we call vehemently to the population to give a frontal fight against the mosquito that transmits dengue, eliminating all possible breeding grounds of our homes and communities.”

On a more positive note, the Health Ministry says there has been a reduction in cases of Chikungunya and especially of Zika, which has dropped from 295 cases from January-July 2018 to 89 cases over the same period this year.

Help reduce your risk of mosquito-borne diseases by:

  • Eliminating standing water on your property.
  • Apply mosquito repellent on exposed skin.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use mosquito nets.


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