Tourists warned of Indonesian cocktail risks

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 6th August 2012

A report by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) warns tourists travelling to Indonesia to avoid cocktail drinks as they may contain methanol.

The report, published in the August 2012 issue of Emergency Medicine Australia, describes a young American tourist who developed sudden visual failure and rapid breathing two days after drinking a local cocktail called Arrack, when travelling in Indonesia.

The cocktail was consumed at a tourist bar but is likely to have been mixed from home-brewed or ‘moonshine’ alcohol tainted with methanol.

Authors of the report, emergency physicians Dr Paul Gee and Dr Elizabeth Martin from Christchurch Hospital, expressed concern about the number of methanol poisoning cases among tourists to Bali and other parts of Indonesia in recent years.

The report said the American tourist’s case follows a similar incident last year in which a 25-year-old Australian nurse suffered brain damage and kidney failure after drinking Arrack laced with methanol and in 2009, 25 tourists died after drinking a contaminated batch of Arrack in Bali.

“Visual symptoms include blurred vision, spots, photophobia and partial to complete visual loss. Most patients complain of anxiety, headache, nausea, vomiting and weakness,” Dr Gee and Dr Martin explained in their report.

Link to report