Some 32 people in the state of Jalisco have been poisoned after drinking a particular brand of cane alcohol and half of those have died, the state’s Ministry of Health reported.
The culprit, authorities suspect, is a 96-proof brand called El Chorrito which may have become tainted with high levels of methanol during the distillation process. Methanol, typically used in solvents and antifreeze, can metabolize to formaldehyde and formic acid in the liver and become toxic within a few short hours of being ingested.
The first reports of victims began Saturday in Mazamitla and Tamazula. Symptoms reported included dizziness, blurred vision or blindness, difficulty breathing, seizures, and severe abdominal pain.
Of the deceased, 15 were men between the ages of 28 and 83. One 66-year-old woman has also died. Some of the victims had to be air-lifted to local hospitals.
The patients who have required hospitalization are 15 men between 22 and 67 years of age and a 29-year-old woman. As of Tuesday, two of those hospitalized had been discharged.
The state prosecutor’s office announced an investigation into the poisonings, which will include a look at El Chorrito’s parent company, Grupo Sáenz, and whether it was authorized to sell the product at a retail level or limited to bulk sales to the industrial and pharmaceutical sectors.
Last year in Costa Rica at least 19 people died from drinking alcohol tainted with methanol.
The Mazatlan Post