BROWNSVILLE, Texas – More than 200 patients may be at risk of fungal meningitis while undergoing surgery at clinics in a Mexican border city, federal authorities say.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that it was working with the Mexican Ministry of Health and state and local departments in the United States to respond to the outbreak among patients who traveled to Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.
Authorities have identified and shut down two hospitals associated with the outbreak, the Riverside Surgical Center and the K-3 Clinic.
The Mexican Ministry of Health has sent the CDC a list of 221 US patients who are at risk of developing meningitis, given their history of intervention in these clinics between January and May 13. Three other patients were not identified from the list, bringing the number in the United States who have been exposed to 224, the CDC said.
The CDC has worked with more than two dozen state and local health departments to contact people who have been exposed and encourage them to get tested at their nearest medical center. Tests for meningitis include MRI and lumbar puncture.
The CDC was alerted last week by warning US residents to postpone their surgeries in Matamoros, noting that five people from Texas who underwent operations there developed possible cases of fungal meningitis. One of them died. A second person, who was a suspect, also died, the CDC said Wednesday.
Several Americans who underwent surgery in Matamoros, Mexico, were diagnosed with fungal meningitis, which caused severe symptoms and caused one of them to die, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for the English acronym).
Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, and must be treated urgently. Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and sensitivity to light. Meningitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, trauma, or fungi, as in fungal meningitis.
Patients identified in Texas began showing symptoms between three days and six weeks after their operations in Matamoros.
Experts say it is common for people to leave the United States for prescription drugs, dental work, surgery and other medical treatments, a practice called medical periegesin. Mexico, Canada, India and Thailand are popular destinations.