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Utahn dies after weight-loss surgery in Mexico

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(Photo: Ashlee Galloway via MGN)

A Utah resident died after undergoing weight-loss surgery in Tijuana, Mexico, according to the Utah Department of Health.

After the procedure, the resident tested positive for an antibiotic-resistant form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.

This person is one of eight Utahns who have been infected or colonized with the bacteria after traveling to Tijuana for similar surgeries. All of the other patients, however, recovered, according to UDOH.

Many reports of people contracting the bacteria while getting healthcare in Mexico have been reported nationwide. The bacteria outbreak was announced in January and UDOH cautioned Utahns not to travel to Mexico to undergo surgeries, according to a press release. These Utah cases are linked to similar cases nationwide and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is helping investigate the outbreak.

The person's identity was not released by UDOH in order to protect the privacy of the patient and their family.

UDOH reports that seven of the eight patients, including the one who died, had the same surgeon, Dr. Mario Almanza, perform their operation. Five of the patients said they were referred to Almanza through Weight Loss Agents, an online referral service.

Dr. Allyn Nakashima, manager of the UDOH Healthcare-Associated Infections/Antimicrobial Resistant Program, stated in a press release:

"We cannot provide any assurances of patient safety or quality of care to individuals who are considering undergoing such procedures in Tijuana. I cannot stress enough the safest course of action is not to travel to Mexico for these procedures. Using an internationally accredited facility is not a guarantee that your medical care will be free of complications.”

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing the following symptoms after having a surgical procedure in Tijuana during or after August 2018, medical treatment should be sought immediately:

  • fever
  • redness
  • pus or drainage from the surgical incision site
  • swelling at the surgical incision site

Anyone considering traveling abroad is encouraged for medical procedures is encouraged to visit cdc.gov.


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