ARS TECHNICA – Three more people in the US have died from fungal meningitis in an outbreak linked to tainted surgeries in Mexico, bringing the total deaths to seven, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.
The total case count remains unchanged from an update earlier this month, with 34 cases in the US: nine confirmed, 10 probable, and 15 suspected.
Health officials are investigating 161 others who may have been exposed.
The outbreak is linked to cosmetic surgeries involving epidural anesthesia at two clinics in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the border from Brownsville, Texas.
Mexican and US officials suspect that a component of the anesthetic was contaminated, resulting in the pathogenic fungus Fusarium solani being injected directly into people’s spinal cords.
The tainted surgeries are thought to have occurred between January 1, 2023, to May 13, 2023, around when the clinics were shut down by local health officials.
In an interview earlier this month, Dr. Tom Chiller, Mycotic Diseases Branch chief for the CDC, told Ars that Mexican officials suspect that morphine used in the epidural may be the culprit.
The painkiller is mixed in with a widely used anesthetic, but morphine is in short supply in Mexico currently, which may have led to the use of gray- or black-market drugs …