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Fake alcohol warning issued after man becomes seriously ill from drinking methanol

He thought he was drinking vodka.

Image: Shutterstock/Liukov

THE HSE HAS issued a public health alert about the danger of consuming fake or counterfeit alcohol.

The move follows the hospitalisation of a man with methanol poisoning.

It is understood that the patient, who is seriously ill in a Dublin hospital, drank liquid from a vodka bottle which was bought from an unrecognised vendor in the Ballymun area of Dublin.

It is thought the vodka bottle had been re-filled with methanol, which is highly toxic.

Gardaí in Ballymun and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland are investigating the incident.

The HSE has issued the following advice to the public:

  • Only buy alcohol from a recognised shop, off-licence or licenced premises
  • If you have bought alcohol from an unrecognised seller, do not drink it. Hand the bottle in to your local garda station to help in the investigation of this incident
  • If you recently drank alcohol from a bottle bought on the street and are concerned about symptoms, seek urgent medical advice

In a statement, the HSE noted that methanol is highly toxic and consumption of it can cause kidney failure, blindness and death.

Methanol is contained in solvents, antifreeze and windscreen wash. It is also called methyl alcohol, carbinol, wood alcohol or wood spirit.

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People who drink methanol may initially have symptoms such as loss of balance, staggering, slurred speech or eye tremors. There may be a gap of 12 -24 hours before symptoms of methanol poisoning develop.

These can include headache, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and rapid breathing. In severe cases, convulsions and coma can develop.

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Órla Ryan

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