A MYSTERIOUS meningitis outbreak sweeping across Mexico has claimed the lives of at least 35 people.
Health experts believe the infection started in several patients who had all undergone surgical procedures in private hospitals in the city of Durango, Mexico.
The first case was reported late last year, and since, Mexican health authorities have reported new cases nearly every day, as well as hospitalisations and fatalities caused by the disease, according to Reuters .
Medics and private hospitals owners have been accused of using "contaminated anesthetics" that triggered the bacterial meningitis outbreak, ABC News reported.
Bacterial meningitis is a serious inflammatory condition that affects the brain.
If it is not treated quickly, the condition can cause life-threatening septicaemia (blood poisoning) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
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Durango’s state government have called the outbreak “an unprecedented situation”.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it would help Mexico’s Government monitor the mysterious meningitis outbreak.
About 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, including 500 deaths, occur each year in the U.S., according to the CDC.
In the UK, around 3,200 people a year get bacterial meningitis.
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One in 10 die and many more are left with life-changing disabilities.
Viral forms of meningitis are less common and rarely life-threatening, but can have lifelong effects.
Infections peak during winter when bugs spread more easily in confined spaces.
The 9 symptoms of meningitis
The symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and include:
- A high fever over 37.5 degrees – the average human temperature
- being sick
- a headache
- a blotchy rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it
- stiffness, especially in the neck
- sensitivity to bright lights
- drowsiness, irritability or lack of energy
- cold hands and feet
Source: The Meningitis Research Foundation
What is the treatment for meningitis?
Bacterial meningitis, which is more dangerous, needs to be treated in hospital for at least a week.
Patients will receive antibiotics, fluids and oxygen, according to the NHS.
If it is treated quickly then the prognosis is good, but patients can be left with serious long-term problems including blindness, deafness, loss of limb due to sepsis, problems with memory and concentration, recurrent seizures and problems with co-ordination and balance.
Ten per cent of cases result in death.
Viral infections are less serious and tend to get better on their own within 10 days with plenty of rest and pain killers, but you should always seek medical advice first.
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