The City of Brownsville’s Health Authority is reminding residents to remain cautious when traveling to Matamoros, Mexico for elective surgery.
Dr. Christopher Romero, health authority for the City of Brownsville, said meningitis is a serious and life-threatening condition, and it is important right now that people avoid undergoing any medical procedures in Matamoros that may require epidural anesthesia this year in Matamoros.
“It is very common for people in our community to receive medical care on both sides of the border. This current situation highlights the importance of informing your healthcare provider of all of the health care and medications you may receive, regardless of where it takes place or who prescribes them.,” Dr. Romero said. “If you have surgery, it is important to follow your surgeons’ instructions to avoid complications and attend your follow-up visits to make sure you are recovering appropriately; and also to report any complications you may experience right away in order to have the best recovery.”
Symptoms of fungal meningitis are fever, headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, nausea, vomiting, or confusion. Dr. Romero said anyone exhibiting these symptoms after undergoing epidural anesthesia in Matamoros, should notify their healthcare provider and seek care right away.
Although meningitis is not contagious, it is a serious infection and if it is not treated properly and promptly, it could cause permanent complications or death, Dr. Romero said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel advisory stating people should consider postponing getting surgeries or any other elective surgeries performed in Matamoros until there is evidence the procedures do not pose a significant risk of infection.
Other CDC health guidelines include the following:
• All patients, with or without symptoms, who had epidural (spinal) anesthesia in Matamoros, Mexico, at River Side Surgical Center or Clinica K-3 from January 1 to May 13, 2023, should go to the nearest emergency room. If there are significant barriers to reaching an emergency room (e.g., distance), people with potential exposure may consider calling their local health center or urgent care facility to see if these diagnostic tests are available. In most situations, the emergency room will be the best or only option.
• It can take weeks for symptoms to develop, and they may be very mild or absent at first. -However, once symptoms start, they can quickly become severe and life-threatening. Early testing and treatment can save lives (3).
• Patients are also encouraged to contact their state or local health department if they believe they might be at risk for fungal meningitis based on the criteria above; however, seeking urgent medical evaluation should be the first priority.
• Please share this notice with anyone you know who may be at risk. CDC and partners are still trying to find and notify patients who might be at risk of fungal meningitis. Some patients have been identified through word of mouth by other members of the public.
• Patients should be aware that unsafe injection practices can be a serious threat to their health.
• All medical and surgical procedures carry some risk, and complications can occur regardless of where treatment is received. If patients travel to another country for a procedure, they should not delay seeking medical care if they suspect any complication during travel or after returning home. Immediately obtaining medical care can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment and a better outcome.