Get Yourself Tested: Alarms raised over cosmetic surgery-linked deadly fungal outbreak
Authorities in the US and neighbouring Mexico have called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare a public health emergency over a deadly fungal outbreak connected to cosmetic procedures carried out in Mexico.
Almost 400 people in the two countries are currently being monitored. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two people known to have undergone cosmetic procedures in Mexico involving epidural anaesthesia have died of meningitis.
A couple of cosmetic clinics in Matamoros in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas have been shut.
Both US and Mexican authorities have urged people who had surgeries involving epidural anaesthesia at either Clinica K-3 or the River Side Surgical Center since January to get tested, even if they haven’t experienced any symptoms yet.
The CDC said 25 Americans have already been identified with “suspected” or “probable” cases of fungal meningitis.
According to Dallas Smith of the health agency, in the current outbreak, medications used during anaesthesia may have been contaminated either in the epidural itself or in other medications that are added in conjunction during the procedures.
Mexico is currently witnessing a shortage and there is a chance of a black market being involved in the contamination of medications, said Smith.
In fact, a batch of a local anaesthetic usually used for Caesarean births was found last October being infected by the same fungus, causing the death of 39 people in Durango.
Fungal meningitis is not considered contagious and can easily be treated using antifungal medications.
But it can also swiftly become a life-threatening condition once symptoms start to surface. Headaches are the most common early symptoms, followed by vomiting, fever, blurred vision, and neck pain.
A number of US citizens often travel to neighbouring Mexico for low-cost medical procedures.
Cosmetic procedures such as breast augmentation, liposuction, and Brazilian butt lifts are also quite popular among the Americans. All these services require an anaesthetic to be injected into the area around the spinal column.