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The Tijuana clinic that is subject of a health alert. The Tijuana hospital that is subject of a health alert.

US issues warning over infection risk at Tijuana hospital

Most of the victims had traveled from the US for weight-loss surgery

Health authorities in the United States have warned against having surgery at a Tijuana hospital after some U.S. residents were diagnosed with infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant form of bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 2 alert Wednesday stating that it had received reports of serious drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in U.S. residents who had operations in the northern border city.

“All of the travelers with this particular infection had an invasive medical procedure performed in Tijuana. Most (but not all) of them had weight-loss surgery. About half of those infected had their surgery done at the Grand View Hospital,” the CDC said.

“CDC recommends that travelers to Tijuana, Mexico, not have surgery at the Grand View Hospital until the Mexican government can confirm that the drug-resistant form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria is no longer there,” it added.

CDC medical officer Dr. David Ham said that there are 11 confirmed cases of Pseudomonas infections, nine of which occurred between August and November 2018.

“Based on information provided by the CDC, the Mexican government has closed the Grand View Hospital until further notice,” the CDC said.

However, on Thursday night, that assertion appeared to be incorrect, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

It said that people could be seen coming and going from the facility, located on an upscale residential street near the border, and there was no obvious sign that the hospital had been closed by the government.

According to the CDC, “infections caused by . . . Pseudomonas are rare and difficult to treat in the United States.”

Dr. Benjamin Talei, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, told NBC Los Angeles that a lack of hygiene is usually the cause of such infections.

“[Surgical teams] do not clean the body perfectly or the instruments, and with liposculptures they are passing a piece of metal inside the body,” he said.

“With this bacteria you can lose a hand, you can have a lung infection, it can be very serious,” Talei added.

The CDC said that “Pseudomonas infections of the blood, lungs (pneumonia), and after surgery can lead to severe illness and death.”

Héctor Rivera Valenzuela, a Baja California health official, confirmed that there had been a contamination of operating rooms at the Grand View Hospital but said that surgeons were not to blame.

“The problem wasn’t the surgical technique or the capacity of the doctors . . .” he said.

Thousands of United States residents travel to Mexican border cities each year to undergo medical and dental procedures that cost much less than in the U.S.

However, the CDC and other U.S. medical professionals warn that there are significant risks in traveling abroad for medical treatment.

A Texas woman was placed in a medically-induced coma and later died after a nose job surgery at a clinic in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, went wrong in October.

In 2015, an Australian woman died on an operating table at a clinic in Mexicali, Baja California, while undergoing a “Brazilian butt lift.”

Source: Reforma (sp), The San Diego Union-Tribune (en), NBC Los Angeles (en)   

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