6 dead in a meningitis outbreak tied to Mexico clinics as officials struggle to reach more patients

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The death toll has risen to six in an outbreak of fungal meningitis that’s tied to surgical procedures in a city along the U.S.-Mexico border, and health officials say they have not been able to reach everyone who may be at risk of infection.

More than 200 patients could be at risk of fungal meningitis after having surgical procedures in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, between Jan. 1 to May 13 of this year.

But incomplete contact information has hindered efforts to reach nearly half the people who need to see a doctor for evaluation and testing, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Tom Skinner said Tuesday.

Two clinics linked to the outbreak, River Side Surgical Center and Clinica K-3, closed on May 13.

The CDC has been working with the Mexican Ministry of Health and state and local health departments in the U.S. to respond to the outbreak.

Meningitis is the swelling of the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord and should be treated urgently. Symptoms include fever, headache, a stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion and sensitivity to light. Cases of meningitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, trauma or fungi.

Patients in the Texas cases started showing symptoms three days to six weeks after surgery in Matamoros.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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