Medical tourism brings antibiotic-resistant infections home

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So many lessons are offered in a recent communication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about antibiotic-resistant infections among patients returning to the U.S. after undergoing surgical procedures in Tijuana, Mexico.

The CDC learned about the first of the carbapenem-resistant  infections at the end of September through its Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network. In all, treatment-resistant infections were found in seven patients who reported receiving bariatric surgery in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico from September, 2018 to November, 2018, six at the same hospital.

An important lesson, noted by the CDC is this: “Medical tourism has been associated with complications, including infections caused by antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria not commonly seen in the U.S. Patients who are considering seeking medical care overseas should be aware of this risk.”

Another lesson, given those risks, is that access to affordable health care services at home, in the U.S. is a critical need. An overall lesson is medical tourism is one more way in for pathogens that don’t respect national borders, so strengthening worldwide abilities to detect, prevent, treat and control infections, particularly ones that are showing resistance to treatment is a common interest that also crosses national borders.

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