Wednesday 20 March, 2019

Ministry of Health issues alcohol warning after mysterious deaths

The Ministry of Health has warned against the consumption of alcohol, especially from unknown sources, following the mysterious deaths of three men and one woman in Coolie Town, Marigot over the weekend.

Speculation has spread that those who died may have consumed a poisonous substance that was believed by them to be regular alcohol. Some on social media have speculated that the substance may have been embalming fluid.

Chief Medical Officer, Merlene Fredericks told reporters that the unusual deaths of persons ranging in age from 32 to 55, are being investigated and that a health team of doctors, environmental health officers and nurses is on the ground in the area working along with police.

Fredericks said that it is not definitive but the science suggests that a toxic compound that looked and smelled like alcohol was likely ingested. She called on citizens, especially those in Coolie Town, to come forward if they have any information so as to prevent any further loss of life.

Fredericks noted that the symptoms in these cases presented initially as typical alcohol intoxication or drunkenness before serious symptoms such as sudden blindness or loss of consciousness were seen.

The deaths have caused many people to rush to the emergency room at Victoria Hospital. However the indication is that unless such a substance was ingested, that people would not be at risk.

The Ministry of Health issued a release which says:

"The deaths occurred between Friday 9th and Monday 12th March 2018.

These patients presented to the Victoria Hospital at varying times with unusual symptoms, such as sudden onset of blindness, abnormal abdominal pain and in some cases, persons developed rapid unconsciousness and death.

The symptoms seem more in keeping with a poisonous substance. We do not believe that the individuals died of an infectious disease.

We have heard rumors of a possible toxic substance, perhaps something that looks like and smells like alcohol being stolen and shared but have no evidence at this point of what the actual toxin may be.

Whilst the Ministry continues its investigation in the community, alongside the police, we are cautioning persons against drinking alcohol, especially drinks from unrecognized sources.

The Ministry is advising anyone with information to come forward and share with us and the police, in order to prevent further persons from being exposed to this toxic substance.

Persons who believe they may have been exposed should visit a health facility where they can be examined, tested and managed."

Download our app to keep up on the news in Saint Lucia: Android: & iOS:

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: