An Australian teenager is recovering after she was blinded from methanol poisoning after drinking a spiked cocktail while on vacation in Bali. She is just one of many students who became ill after drinking the speciality cocktails.
The 18-year-old woman was on a vacation from school in Bali last month when she was blinded after drinking a cocktail that was spiked with methanol.
Several other students also became ill after having the drink, but it affected her the worst. This comes just a month after an 18-year-old boy was also temporarily blinding during a school trip to Bali.
The young girl was treated at Bali and then was taken to the emergency room of Royal North Shore Hospital when she returned home to Sydney.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the hospital wouldn't say what symptoms the teen had specifically, but they did say that she was discharged and will continue recovering at home.
Methanol is sometimes added to drinks to make them more alcoholic, but it is a toxic chemical that can cause a variety of effects on the body. It can cause vomiting, headaches, stomach pain and even more serious effects like coma, liver failure, permanent or temporary blindness and even death.
Jan Bowler, a mother of another teen who drank a methanol-laced cocktail said her son almost died.
"The Red Frogs team found him lying in the garden of his motel so they took him to his room because he was complaining he had pins and needles in his face and that his eyesight was being affected," Jan Bowler said, according to The Sunday Telegraph. "He said his eyes were hurting so much he put a cold towel over his face. By the time he got to hospital, he couldn't see a thing, so they gave him some injections to counteract the methanol."
Cases of young travelers being affected by spiked drinks has been common lately.
"There have been other local reports of drink spiking cases this year," Foreign Minister Bob Carr said. "But not every case is brought to the attention of our consular staff. Spiked drinks might contain drugs, or they might contain poisons like methanol. Methanol is extremely toxic and poisoning can cause serious injury and blindness."
"We're aware of one young Australian hospitalised in Indonesia after drinking what may have been methanol. I wish her all the best in her recovery," Carr continued.
The volunteer group Red Frogs went to Bali to treat students.
"We treated and hospitalised around five schoolies for methanol poisoning and out of them there was one we had great concern for," Red Frogs Bali co-ordinator Paul Mergard told the Telegraph. "I would suspect that the real number is much higher. We had some we sent to hospital who were quite sick but we probably didn't see the worst of what was happening because we took them to hospital where they were treated."
Mergard hopes that more awareness will be brought to students about these dangerous cocktails.
"The scary thing is these kids don't know what they are drinking. It is mixed through cocktails," Mergard said.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides general warnings about methanol poisoning on its website.