HSE warns against buying alcohol from unlicensed sellers

Public health alert issued after Dubliner hospitalised

Written by Jack Eustace


The HSE have today warned of the dangers around consuming fake or counterfeit alcohol after an incident of poisoning in Dublin.

The Health Service Executive have put out a public health alert which warns people against buying or drinking alcohol from unrecognised sellers or on the street. This is in response to a person becoming seriously ill in Ballymun, Dublin after drinking what they thought was vodka.

The person in question is currently in hospital. Local Gardaí and the Food Safety Authority are investigating what happened, but it is thought that the vodka bottle in question was actually filled with methanol, an extremely toxic liquid.

Methanol is a form of alcohol found in anti-freeze and windscreen wash. People who drink it may have the following symptoms almost right away:

  • Loss of balance
  • Slurred speech
  • Eye tremors (uncontrollable eye twitches)

There may then be a gap of 12-24 hours before more serious effects emerge. These can include any of the following:

  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unusually fast breathing

In light of this incident and with the St Patrick's Day festival just ahead, the HSE are giving the following advice for anyone buying or drinking alcohol:

  • Only buy alcohol from recognised shops, off-licenses or premises (i.e. pubs and bars)
  • If you have bought alcohol from an unrecognised seller or on the street, don’t drink it. You can hand the bottle into your local garda station to help with their investigation
  • If you feel you may have consumed fake alcohol or have any of the symptoms listed above seek medical advice right away

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