US and Mexico sound alarm over cosmetic surgery-linked fungal outbreak

US and Mexican health authorities are calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a public health emergency due to a fungal outbreak associated with cosmetic surgeries in Mexico.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two individuals who underwent surgeries involving epidural anesthesia have died from meningitis.

Approximately 400 people in the United States and Mexico are currently under monitoring.

As a result, two cosmetic clinics in Matamoros, Mexico, have been closed down.

Health authorities in both countries are advising individuals who underwent surgeries involving epidural anesthesia at the River Side Surgical Center or Clinica K-3 since January to seek evaluation, even if they do not currently exhibit symptoms.

The CDC has identified 25 people in the United States with “suspected” or “probable” cases of fungal meningitis.

Many Americans travel to Mexico for cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation, and Brazilian butt lifts, which involve the injection of anesthesia near the spinal column.

Dallas Smith from the CDC suggested that medications used during anesthesia in the current outbreak may have been contaminated either within the epidural itself or through other medications added during the surgeries, such as morphine.

“There’s a shortage currently in Mexico, and there could be potential for a black market that could have contaminated medicine,” said Mr Smith.

In October of last year, a contaminated batch of a local anesthetic commonly used for surgeries such as Caesarean births was discovered, resulting in the death of 39 individuals in the Mexican state of Durango. The same fungus responsible for that incident is now linked to the current outbreak.

Headaches are the most common early symptom of fungal meningitis, followed by fever, vomiting, neck pain, and blurred vision.

It is important to note that fungal meningitis is not contagious and can be treated with antifungal medications. However, it can quickly become life-threatening once symptoms manifest.

Many Americans choose to travel to Mexico for affordable medical services.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declares a public health emergency when a disease spreads across multiple countries, necessitating a coordinated international response to control its spread and mitigate its impact.