NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Costa Rica has quickly grown to become a popular tourist destination for families, but over a dozen people have died in the last few weeks after drinking tainted alcohol, and many are wondering if it's still safe to travel there.

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches, wildlife, and friendly atmosphere.

A local travel consultant says Costa Rica is one of those places people go to again and again.

"I just think this is unfortunate. Whatever is happening, this is due to a few people trying to make this another bad destination and it's not," local travel consultant Michelle McConnell tells us.

Over the past few weeks, nineteen people were confirmed to have died from methanol poisoning.

According to the Costa Rican Ministry of Health, since early June, fourteen men and five women across the country have died, including seven cases in San Jose, the most populated city in Costa Rica.

But the United States embassy in Costa Rica released a safety alert saying they are not aware of any U.S. citizens falling ill or dying due to consuming tainted alcohol while there.

To be cautious, the government of Costa Rica has confiscated 30,000 bottles of alcohol from six different brands.

Michelle McConnell from Pioneer Valley Travel tells Western Mass News she has traveled there a handful of times and says an issue like this is unheard of over there.

"This is just not something I would have thought about happening there, and I've gone out to a lot of bars and the restaurants and got the fruity drinks and never had an issue," added McConnell.

Right now, the U.S. embassy says they are in contact with the government in Costa Rica, which is still investigating the situation.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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