Surgical Site Infections in Utah Residents Linked to Weight-Loss Surgery in Mexico

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating a cluster of surgical site infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. These infections occurred among U.S. residents who had an invasive medical procedure in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. Utah is one of several states that has cases associated with this cluster. Four cases have been confirmed in Utah residents, and the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is investigating others.

Most of the cases who traveled to Mexico had weight-loss surgery. About half of those infected had surgery at the Grand View Hospital. Others became infected after surgery at other hospitals and clinics. Poor infection control practices were identified at Grand View Hospital, including failure to appropriately clean and disinfect surgical instruments. As a result, patients may have been exposed to bacterial infections and bloodborne infections.

The UDOH and CDC recommend that travelers to Mexico not have surgery (including weight-loss surgery) at Grand View Hospital in Tijuana. Neither the UDOH nor CDC has authority to assure quality of care or patient safety in Mexico or any international hospitals. Patients considering surgery in foreign countries should consider the associated risks.

The following actions are recommended for individuals who had a surgical procedure in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico during or after August 2018:

  • Individuals who had a surgical procedure in Tijuana during or after August 2018 and are experiencing any of the following signs of infection should seek medical care immediately as serious complications may result without prompt treatment:
    • fever
    • redness
    • pus or drainage from the surgical incision site
    • swelling at the surgical incision site.
  • Individuals who had a surgical procedure in Tijuana during or after August 2018 should talk with their healthcare provider immediately about getting tested for the following bloodborne infections, regardless of symptoms:
    • hepatitis B virus
    • hepatitis C virus
    • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Patients should tell their healthcare provider about any travel and all medical care or surgeries abroad to help guide effective treatment.

Serious Pseudomonas infections usually occur in people in the hospital and/or with weakened immune systems. Patients in hospitals, especially those on breathing machines, those with devices such as catheters, and patients with wounds from surgery or from burns are potentially at risk for serious, life-threatening infections. Infections caused by this particular drug-resistant Pseudomonas are rare in the U.S. and difficult to treat.

Additional information U.S. residents planning to travel abroad for medical care:

  • Medical and surgical procedures done anywhere (even in the U.S.) carry some risk and can result in complications.
  • See a travel medicine specialist in the U.S. at least one month before your trip. Travel medicine specialists can provide you with the guidance, vaccines, and medicines you may need for your travel.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you are healthy enough to travel abroad for medical or surgical procedures.
  • Research the healthcare provider who will perform your procedure, as well as the clinic or hospital where you will be receiving care. Be aware that standards for providers and clinics abroad may be different from those in the U.S.
  • Remember that using an internationally accredited facility is not a guarantee that your medical care will be free of complications.


Media Contact:
Rebecca Ward
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(c): 801-352-1270