Current Hot Topic for August 2017
Methanol Poisoning Warning
British backpacker Cheznye Emmons, 23, died after drinking gin which had been mixed with methanol. She bought the counterfeit gin from a shop in a sealed bottle sporting a familiar brand while travelling in Indonesia in 2013. Cheznye first showed signs of methanol poisoning when she woke up a day after drinking the fake gin unable to see. She died five days later in hospital.
In September 2016, a British tourist was left blind after drinking a cocktail suspected of being laced with cheap alcohol while on holiday in Greece. Hannah Powell, 20, collapsed with kidney failure after partying with friends on the island of Zakynthos. After an evening in the bars drinking cocktails, she went to bed, slept 48 hours and woke up unable to see. Doctors do not yet know if her kidneys or eyesight will return to normal. The Greek press have claimed Ms Powell has suffered methanol poisoning from cheap alcohol added to her drinks.
A public health alert was issued in March 2017 after a man, who was seriously ill in a Dublin hospital, was given fake alcohol. The HSE said the patient drank liquid from a vodka bottle- bought from an unrecognised vendor in Ballymun - which turned out to be filled with the highly-toxic methanol. The HSE has now issued a public health alert about the consumption of fake or counterfeit alcohol. The police in Ballymun and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland are investigating the incident.
American tourists have shared their experiences of being served bootleg alcohol whilst on holiday at all-inclusive Cancun resorts. Two teenage brothers from Minnesota said they were on vacation with their parents when they woke up covered in mud, with no shirts or shoes on and their wallets and mobile phones missing. A Wisconsin woman said she was sexually assaulted while both she and her husband were unconscious, and her husband woke up with a broken hand. One case involved the death of Abbey Conner, 20, from Wisconsin, who was on a vacation with her mother, her stepfather and her brother in January. She and her older brother, Austin, were found face down in the pool unconscious shortly after they arrived. Abbey was declared brain dead and was taken off life support.
Austin survived but suffered an injury to his forehead and a severe concussion with no memory of what occurred. An attorney hired by the family, has raised suspicions, claiming that the hotel was ‘serving alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks’.
Methanol is a colourless liquid with a mild alcohol odour. When ingested, it is extremely poisonous and is known to cause blindness, kidney failure, seizures and death. The chemical is deliberately added to strengthen or stretch illegal alcoholic drinks, especially spirits.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have provided advice for the purchasing of alcohol:
- Only buy alcohol from a recognised shop, off-license or licensed premises; and ensure it is labelled. Check branded products for labels that are poorly printed or with errors, or bottles with broken seals. Do not buy these.
- If the price of your alcoholic drink looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Be suspicious of alcoholic drinks offered for sale in informal settings that are not licensed to sell alcohol, such as market stalls.
- If you bought alcohol from an unrecognised seller, do not drink it. Hand the bottle in to your local police station to help in the investigation of this incident.