Thursday, September 28, 2023
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Thursday, September 28, 2023

Fungal Meningitis Outbreak in Mexico Claims Seven Lives; CDC Urges Testing




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A fungal meningitis outbreak, linked to two clinics in Matamoros, Mexico, has resulted in the deaths of seven individuals, according to the latest advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued on Thursday, Your Content has learned.

The outbreak occurred after patients received epidural anesthesia at either River Side Surgical Center or Clinica K-3.

Federal health officials had previously reported two deaths last month and advised potentially infected patients to seek immediate medical attention.

Both American and Mexican authorities are now collaborating on an extensive effort to locate individuals who underwent procedures at these clinics between January 1 and May 13.

However, attempts to reach out to these individuals have been hampered due to incomplete contact information.

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In response, the CDC is adopting a multifaceted approach, including a social media campaign and targeted advertisements in the presumed residential areas of the affected individuals.

Thomas Skinner, a CDC spokesperson, stressed the urgency of testing for potential fungal infections, as the disease can progress rapidly and prove fatal.

He acknowledged the possibility of individuals still being at risk due to the long and variable incubation period of the organism.

Skinner emphasized the importance of encouraging these individuals to visit their doctors promptly and, if necessary, undergo testing.

Fungal meningitis is characterized by inflammation affecting the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

It results from a fungal infection that spreads through the bloodstream to these areas.

Symptoms may initially be mild or take weeks to manifest, including fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting.

However, once symptoms appear, they can rapidly worsen and become life-threatening.

Since the initial outbreak advisory in May, the death toll from fungal meningitis has risen by six, and the CDC anticipates a further increase in the number of infected individuals and the death rate.

While fungal meningitis is not contagious, it can be contracted through contaminated medical equipment, such as needles or syringes, during medical procedures, as observed in the cases at the Mexican clinics.

According to infectious disease physician Scott Roberts from Yale, this type of contamination is not exclusive to Mexico.

However, the variance in safety protocols and oversight in clinics abroad poses an elevated risk to patients.

The United States has identified 34 cases of fungal meningitis associated with procedures at the two clinics in Mexico, comprising nine confirmed, ten probable, and fifteen suspected cases.

Additionally, over 160 individuals are under monitoring for potential infection.

Following the initial reports of the outbreak, the CDC issued a health advisory cautioning patients considering traveling abroad for medical procedures to reassess their plans.

Despite the associated risks, medical tourism remains a thriving industry.

U.S. government figures estimate that annually, between 150,000 to 320,000 Americans travel abroad for medically necessary or elective procedures.

Common medical tourism-related illnesses include infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

According to Roberts, the allure of seeking more affordable healthcare overseas is likely driven by the high costs of healthcare in the United States.

However, this decision comes with inherent risks and potential complications, according to The Washington Post.

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