Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Arrest warrants issued in connection to Durango meningitis outbreak

Authorities are seeking to arrest seven people in connection with a meningitis outbreak in Durango that has claimed 22 lives.

The Durango Attorney General’s Office (FGED) said Monday that it had obtained arrest warrants against administrators and owners of four private hospitals where patients contracted fungal meningitis during operations.

Federal and state health authorities said last week that the fungus Fusarium solani was to blame. An anesthetic medication used on the patients who became ill with meningitis may have been contaminated with the fungus, possibly because the drug was inadequately stored. Another possibility is that the patients were injected with contaminated needles.

Many of the people who contracted meningitis were women who underwent surgeries such as cesarean sections in recent months. The Durango Health Ministry said on Twitter Monday that 71 confirmed cases and 22 deaths had been recorded.

Wanted posters for two men and three women.
The warrants target owners and administrators of the private hospitals where the outbreak began. (FGED)

The patients contracted meningitis as a result of the spinal anesthesia (or spinal block) procedures they underwent, the FGED said in a statement. The infection “was caused by a fungus that entered their nervous system due to the procedures that were applied,” it said.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said last week that the errors that turned a safe procedure into an unsafe one hadn’t been established.

The FGED said that the arrest warrants were issued last Tuesday on charges of homicide and causing aggravated injuries. Officers raided 13 private homes last Wednesday, but didn’t find any of the suspects.

Durango has requested the assistance of federal and state authorities, and Interpol, to locate the hospital owners and administrators.

The FGED said it has seized 17 properties, including four private hospitals that were recently shut down. Proceeds from their sale would be used to compensate victims and their families.

The Durango Attorney General’s Office noted that the federal health regulator Cofepris seized samples of the anesthetic bupivacaine from the private hospitals, but “didn’t find any fungal growth.”

The labeling on the samples was determined to be authentic, the FGED said.

Alejandro Macías, an infectious disease specialist, last month raised the possibility that a contaminated counterfeit version of the anesthetic has been used in Durango.

With reports from Animal Político, Reforma and El Financiero 

Have something to say? Paid Subscribers get all access to make & read comments.
Tropical Storm One projection Cyclone Albert

Potential tropical cyclone approaches northeastern coast of Mexico

The potential tropical cyclone could become the first named storm of the hurricane season by Wednesday.
Worried guests gather around a hot tub in Puerto Peñasco

Wife of US tourist who died in Puerto Peñasco hot tub electrocution files US $1M suit

When she saw her husband struggling under the water, Zambrano jumped in to help, only to be electrocuted herself.
A group of mostly Black migrants, some of whom maybe be undocumented foreigners, walks down a Mexican highway under a bright sun.

Nearly 1.4 million undocumented migrants detected in Mexico so far this year

The National Immigration Institute (INM) data on encounters from January to May is almost double the number for all of 2023.