Infection is unwanted souvenir from medical tourists’ trips

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Three patients with post-operative infections reported by New York Health officials in May 2017 to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sparked an investigation that revealed 35 more patients from nine states who had traveled to the Dominican Republic for cosmetic procedures and returned with nontuberculosis myobacteria. The investigation led to the temporary closing of one of the centers performing the procedures, and a warning from CDC about perils of medical tourism that include the chances that infections acquired abroad might not be readily recognized at home.

All of the patients were women who had been undergone cosmetic surgery procedures in the Dominican Republic between January and July of 2017, 26 of them at the same surgeon at Centro Internacional de Cirugia Plastica Avanzada. At least 11 of the patients overall required treatment with multiple antibiotics, 14 needed surgery to address complications from the infection, and one patient died.

After learning of the first three patients CDC identified the rest after putting out a call for similar cases through its own Epidemic Information Exchange, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ email distribution list, and the Emerging Infections Network of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (which produces this blog).

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