American Dead, Seven Others Sickened After Surgeries in Mexico

American Dead, Seven Others Sickened After Surgeries in Mexico
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An American has died during a surgery in Mexico, officials in Utah said on July 22.

In a release obtained by Fox 13, the Utah County Health Department said that a Utah resident died in Tijuana, Baja California, south of San Diego, California, after traveling there for weight loss surgery.

That person, and seven others who got sick but survived, tested positive for a form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that is resistant to antibiotics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the infection is caused by strains of bacteria.

“Serious Pseudomonas infections usually occur in people in the hospital and/or with weakened immune systems. Infections of the blood, pneumonia, and infections following surgery can lead to severe illness and death in these people,” it stated. “In hospitals, where the most serious infections occur, Pseudomonas can be spread on the hands of healthcare workers or by equipment that gets contaminated and is not properly cleaned.”

Some strains, especially those spread in hospitals, are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Seven of the eight people who got sick from the Tijuana clinic were operated on by Dr. Mario Almanza, the health department stated. Dr. Allyn Nakashima, a program manager with the department, said reports of getting the infection after traveling to Mexico aren’t uncommon.

“We cannot provide any assurances of patient safety or quality of care to individuals who are considering undergoing such procedures in Tijuana,” he said in a statement, reported Fox 13. “I cannot stress enough the safest course of action is not to travel to Mexico for these procedures. Using an internationally accredited facility is not a guarantee that your medical care will be free of complications.”

The CDC says on its website that medical tourism, or traveling to other countries for medical care, includes risks including antibiotic resistance.

The agency recommends people planning to travel for medical care make sure their current medical conditions are well-controlled, check the qualifications of the places they’ll be treated at, and make sure they have a written agreement with the place or places.

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Utah Patients

A similar outbreak of the infection during weight loss surgery happened in January after some Americans who traveled to a Tijuana hospital contracted the superbug, a problem that’s been reported beginning in Aug. 1, 2018.

“Highly antibiotic resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa continue to be reported among travelers with infections who underwent surgery at several hospitals in Tijuana, Mexico. These infections highlight that resistant bacteria may be more common in other countries than in the United States. Most travelers with infections underwent weight loss surgery and most infections have been at the surgical incision site,” the CDC stated in May.

The individuals who got infected last year were primarily treated at Grand View Hospital. That outbreak appeared to be finished by April 30.

Mexican health officials found poor infection control practices at the facility, including employees failing to properly sterilize medical instruments.

At least one of the patients previously infected died. The infected persons came from a number of states, including Arkansas, Utah, and Texas, Dr. David Ham, a CDC medical officer, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“It’s important that we learn about these infections as quickly as possible so that very specific control measures and containment responses can be implemented,” Ham said.

Justine Rodriguez had some problems in Tijuana. She said she got weight loss surgery in 2016 in Tijuana because of a $45,000 price difference but fell ill several days after returning home.

Doctors found an abscess in her stomach and one of her lungs later collapsed.

“They ended up finding that I had a leak which was caused, from what I understand– the doctor that did my surgery in Mexico had sewn the bottom of my pouch too tight,” Rodriguez told Fox 13.

She said she ended up in debt because of the medical costs in the United States, adding: “The problems that I have now are not worth going to Mexico to get that surgery done.”

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