Utahns contract superbug after weight-loss surgery in Mexico

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Four Utahns went to Mexico for either invasive or weight-loss surgery and contracted a superbug, which health officials say can turn deadly.

Utah public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating a cluster of surgical site infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. These infections occurred among U.S. residents who had an invasive medical procedure in Tijuana, Mexico. Utah is one of several states that has cases associated with this cluster. As of Wednesday, a total of 12 people across the U.S. went to Mexico for surgery and came back with the superbug.

“They’re going down for surgery, they’re coming back with infections and when they go to get treated for the infections, they’re finding that many of the antibiotics that you would typically use, aren’t working on these infections,” explained Dr. Amanda Smith with the Utah Department of Health.

Smith says the CDC has linked all of the Utah cases to the same hospital in Tijuana.

“The CDC has worked very closely with the Mexican health authorities and they were able to conduct an investigation at one of these facilities that a lot of the patients went to called Grand View Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico, and they identified some infection control gaps at that facility. One of the things they identified is the surgical equipment is not being cleaned and disinfected,” said Smith.

Smith says patients who had a surgical procedure in Tijuana during or after August 2018 should talk with their healthcare provider immediately about getting tested for the following bloodborne infections, regardless of symptoms:

  • hepatitis B virus
  • hepatitis C virus
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Patients should tell their healthcare provider about any travel and all medical care or surgeries abroad to help guide effective treatment.

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