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

Brownville, TX – Federal officials say more than 200 patients may be at risk for fungal meningitis after undergoing surgeries at clinics in a Mexican border town.

The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday it was working with the Mexican Ministry of Health and US state and local health departments to respond to the outbreak among patients who visited in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

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

The Mexican Ministry of Health sent the CDC a list of 221 American patients who may be at risk for meningitis based on their surgeries recorded at either clinic from January through May 13. Three other patients not on the list have also been identified, bringing the total of people in the United States known to have potential exposure to 224, the CDC said.

The CDC is working with more than two dozen state and local health departments to contact those potentially exposed and urge them to come to the nearest medical facility for testing. Screening for meningitis includes an MRI and a lumbar puncture, also called a lumbar puncture.

Last week, the CDC warned US residents to cancel surgeries in Matamoros, saying five people from Texas who had procedures there had developed suspected cases of fungal meningitis. One of them died. A second person with a suspected case has also died, the CDC announced Wednesday.

Meningitis is the swelling of the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord and needs to be treated urgently. 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.

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

People leaving the United States for prescription drugs, dental procedures, surgeries and other medical treatments — also known as medical tourism — are common, experts say. Mexico, Canada, India and Thailand are all popular destinations.


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