May 21, 2024
Deadly Fungal Infection Caused by Surgery in Mexico Results in Death and Brainstem and Blood Supply Injuries: Study

Deadly Fungal Infection Caused by Surgery in Mexico Results in Death and Brainstem and Blood Supply Injuries: Study

A recent study conducted by physicians from UTHealth Houston has revealed that a life-threatening mold infection, known as health care-associated Fusarium solani meningitis, can lead to severe injury to the brainstem and its blood supply. The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, highlights the findings of the study, which was led by Nora Strong, MD, and Luis Ostrosky-Zeichner, MD.

The physicians analyzed data from the clinical presentation, disease course, and management of 13 hospitalized patients in multiple centers. These patients had acquired Fusarium solani meningitis after undergoing surgical procedures involving epidural anesthesia in two clinics in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, between January 2023 and May 2023. It is worth noting that the patients had otherwise healthy immune systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a Health Alert Network Health Advisory about the outbreak on May 17, 2023.

The outbreak primarily affected young, healthy individuals who had traveled to Mexico for medical tourism. Both Mexican and American patients experienced severe neurological and vascular injuries as a result of the infection. Despite typically affecting severely immunocompromised patients, the study’s cases demonstrate that direct inoculation of Fusarium species into the cerebrospinal fluid can cause severe meningitis in otherwise healthy individuals. Tragically, this is associated with an extremely high mortality rate.

In all 13 patients analyzed, the physicians found involvement of the brainstem with injury to the basilar and vertebral arteries. Although the injuries were initially insidious, they progressed over time. In some cases, the infection led to the narrowing of important blood vessels in the brain, resulting in stroke or severe hemorrhages, ultimately leading to the death of many patients.

Out of the 13 patients, nine died due to vessel injury. The remaining four patients are still alive, with three of them currently receiving Fosmanogepix monotherapy, an experimental treatment for invasive mold infections. One patient is no longer receiving the antifungal medication. One of the patients undergoing therapy experienced abulia—a state of diminished motivation—after a subarachnoid hemorrhage. However, the other three patients have not experienced any cognitive, sensory, or motor deficits resulting from the infection.

The findings of this study highlight the devastating consequences of health care-associated Fusarium solani meningitis. The direct inoculation of Fusarium species into the cerebrospinal fluid can lead to severe meningitis and fatal neurological and vascular injuries. It is crucial for healthcare providers to be aware of this potential risk, especially in regions where medical tourism is prevalent. Further research and development of treatment options are necessary to combat this life-threatening infection.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it