Authorities in US and Mexico have appealed to the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a public health emergency over a fungal meningitis outbreak associated with cosmetic surgeries in Mexico, BBC reported.
Notably, two Americans have died due to a suspected fungal meningitis outbreak after having surgery under epidural anesthesia in Matamoros, Mexico. Both patients had undergone liposuction, which is where fat is removed from areas of the body.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that hundreds more people could be at risk. The CDC said it had already identified 25 people in the US with ”suspected” or ”probable” cases of fungal meningitis. More than 200 Americans who travelled to clinics in Matamoros between January and May 13 are at risk.
”Officials have identified two clinics associated with the outbreak, River Side Surgical Center and Clinica K-3. These clinics were closed on May 13, 2023,” CDC wrote.
The CDC is also working with 25 state and local health departments to contact people in the US with potential exposure and advise them to go to their nearest health center, urgent care, or emergency room for diagnostic testing for meningitis. People who test positive for infection will be given antifungal medicines and those who test negative will be asked to watch for symptoms.
Notably, many US citizens travel to Mexico for cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation, and Brazilian butt lifts as they are cheaper. The surgeries involve an epidural-an anesthetic injection around the spinal column. However, the medication used for anesthesia in the current outbreak got contaminated and was used at two private hospitals.
Symptoms of meningitis can include fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and changes in mental status. The CDC noted that fungal meningitis infections are not contagious and are not transmitted from person to person. However, it can quickly become life-threatening once symptoms manifest.