Death toll rises to 7 in fungal meningitis outbreak

The death toll from fungal meningitis outbreaks at two clinics in Matamoros, Mexico, now stands at seven, according to a June 29 updated CDC advisory. 

U.S. state and local health departments are monitoring 34 additional cases — nine are confirmed, 10 are probable and 15 are suspected, a June 29 Washington Post report said. More than 160 people who sought surgical procedures at River Side Surgical Center or Clinica K-3 since Jan. 1 are also being monitored for infection. 

Both clinics are now closed.

Patients at risk are those who received epidural anesthesia at either clinic between Jan. 1 and May 13, the CDC said, calling this a "multinational outbreak," as the Mexican Ministry of Health is also keeping a close eye on suspected cases. 

The CDC issued the first advisory on these outbreaks in May after the first death was reported. The agency "anticipates that the number of infected people and the death rate will continue to rise."

"Widespread efforts" to track down anyone who underwent surgical procedures during the time period at either of the clinics continue. Incomplete contact information has limited the CDC's ability to contact all patients who are at risk.

"CDC spokesperson Thomas Skinner said they are taking a 'multiprong approach,' including a social media push, along with advertisements in locations where they think the individuals may live," according to the Post.

"The incubation period for this organism is long and variable, so there are probably a number of individuals [who] still may be at risk of getting sick," Dr. Skinner told the Post. "It's imperative that we try to reach them to encourage them to go in and see their doctor and, if necessary, get tested."


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