Cops have seized around 30,000 bottles from brands suspected of containing the methanol.
Since methanol is "a close chemical cousin of potable alcohol" and also makes people feel intoxicated, it is "sometimes used by bootleggers to cheaply pad out liquor", as LiveScience explained in 2012.
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A notice the day before warned the public about products packaged under names including "Guaro Gran Apache", "Red Star Brandy" and "Guaro Montano". Vendors who sell the drinks could face criminal sanctions, ABC News reported. Additionally, adding methanol to spirits allows sellers to increase the amount of liquid and hike its potential potency even further.
The widely available chemical can mimic the feelings of inebriation, though consumption can cause headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, muscle paralysis and death, World Health Organization said. Toxic amounts of methanol can lead to coma, convulsions and death, and survivors could have permanent damage to their vision.
"The Ministry of Health is carrying out the actions to reduce the exposure of consumers to the products adulterated, as well as related investigations, in coordination with other institutions, to determine the subjects related to this adulteration", the alert said.
This most recent outbreak in Costa Rica mirrors similar outbreaks in recent years that have impacted numerous countries around the world, and resulted in between 20 to over 800 victims in each case, WHO reports. The victims consumed unregulated moonshine, known as "country-made liquor" in the northeast state of Assam.