2 dead, over 200 at risk of suspected meningitis after surgeries in Mexico, CDC says

Brownsville, Texas — Federal officials say more than 200 patients may be at risk of fungal meningitis after undergoing surgical procedures at a clinic in a Mexican border city.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it is cooperating with Mexico’s health ministry and U.S. state and local health departments to respond to an outbreak involving patients from Brownsville, Texas. Went across the border to Matamoros.

Authorities have identified and closed two clinics linked to the outbreak, Riverside Surgical Center and Clinica K-3.

The Mexican Ministry of Health sent the CDC a list of 221 US patients who may be at risk for meningitis based on surgical procedures recorded at any clinic from January to May 13. Three additional patients on the list have also been identified, the CDC said, bringing the total to 224 people in the United States potentially at risk.

The CDC is working with more than two dozen state and local health departments to contact people with possible exposure and urge them to go to their nearest medical facility for testing. Testing for meningitis includes an MRI and a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap.

Last week, the CDC issued a warning to U.S. residents to cancel surgeries in Matamoros, saying five people from Texas who had procedures there developed suspected cases of fungal meningitis. One of them died. One other person has died with the suspected case, the CDC said Wednesday.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective structures of the brain and spinal cord and should be treated immediately. Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion and sensitivity to light. Cases of meningitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, trauma, or fungi.

In the Texas cases, patients began showing symptoms three days to six weeks after surgery in Matamoros.

Experts say people leaving the U.S. for prescription drugs, dental procedures, surgeries and other medical treatments — also known as medical tourism — are common. Mexico, Canada, India and Thailand are all popular destinations.

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