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[Health Service Executive] Warning re purchase of alcohol from unrecognised vendors. (14 Mar 2017)

The HSE have issued a public health alert about the danger of consumption of fake or counterfeit alcohol. This follows the hospitalisation of a patient 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. It is thought that the vodka bottle had been re-filled with methanol, which is highly toxic.

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

The HSE is issuing the following advice to the public:
• Only buy alcohol from a recognised shop, off-license or licensed premises.
• If you 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.

Methanol is highly toxic. Consumption of methanol can cause kidney failure, blindness and death. Methanol is contained in solvents, anti-freeze and windscreen wash. It is also called methyl alcohol, carbinol, wood alcohol or wood spirit.

People who drink methanol may initially have symptoms of loss of balance, staggering, slurred speech and eye tremor. 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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