CDC Warns of Possible Meningitis Outbreak

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Image by University of College, Shutterstock

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory on Wednesday, warning about an outbreak of suspected fungal meningitis infections related to surgeries performed in Mexico.

The CDC received reports of five patients, all U.S. citizens, who had traveled to Matamoros, in the state of Tamaulipas, for cosmetic procedures performed under epidural anesthesia and who were later diagnosed with suspected fungal meningitis. All five patients were hospitalized, and one has died.

While the exact cause of these infections is currently unknown, fungal infiltration is suspected due to biomarkers detected within the spinal fluid of some of these patients.

Fungal meningitis is a fungal infection of the brain or spinal cord, according to the CDC. Many fungi live in the environment and are capable of causing an infection, including Cryptococcus, Blastomyces, Histoplasma, Coccidioides, and Candida.

It is currently unknown which particular fungal organism may be involved in the recent outbreak, but the investigation is ongoing.

Symptoms of meningitis include fever, nausea, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, headache, sensitivity to light, and more. The infection is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

The CDC reported that two female patients were hospitalized in Texas with symptoms resembling meningitis that began about 2-4 weeks after receiving epidural anesthesia and undergoing cosmetic procedures at River Side Surgical Center in Matamoros.

Two other female patients experienced similar symptoms after undergoing cosmetic procedures under epidural anesthesia at Clinica K-3 in Matamoros.

The CDC did not give details on the 5th patient but noted that the Texas Department of Health Services and the Cameron County Health Department are working along with the CDC to investigate additional cases that may be associated with the outbreak.

The CDC is urging doctors to immediately report any suspected cases of fungal meningitis to their state and local health departments.

Patients who have had any medical or surgical procedure in Matamoros since January involving epidural anesthesia are advised to monitor themselves for any possible meningitis symptoms. If these symptoms develop, patients should immediately go to a hospital emergency room and inform the medical staff of their procedure in Matamoros.

Any persons considering elective surgeries or procedures in Matamoros that involve epidural anesthesia are advised to cancel “until there is evidence that there is no longer a risk for infection at these clinics,” the CDC said.

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