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Utahn dies after weight-loss surgery in Mexico

Utahn dies after weight-loss surgery in Mexico

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utahn has recently died after undergoing weight-loss surgery in Tijuana, Mexico, state health officials said.

After the surgery, the patient tested positive for an antibiotic-resistant form of a bacteria, according to the Utah Department of Health. The person was the eighth Utahn to contract the bacteria from a similar surgical procedure in Mexico but the first to die.

Due to privacy laws, additional information about the person who died was not released.

The bacteria, called pseudomonas aeruginosa, can be spread on the hands of hospital workers or by contaminated, uncleaned equipment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients recovering from surgical wounds can be most at-risk of developing serious infections from the bacteria, the CDC says.

Seven of the eight Utahns who got the bacteria in Tijuana after a procedure told state health officials their surgeries were performed by a Dr. Mario Almanza, the department said. Five of them learned about Almanza through medical tourism agency Weight Loss Agents. Almanza is still listed on the company's website as of Monday.


The state health department warned that the "highly antibiotic-resistant organisms" have been reported in patients nationwide who had procedures performed in Mexico.

"We cannot provide any assurances of patient safety or quality of care to individuals who are considering undergoing such procedures in Tijuana," said Dr. Allyn Nakashima, manager of the health departmen's Healthcare-Associated Infections/Antimicrobial Resistant Program, in a statement.

"I cannot stress enough the safest course of action is not to travel to Mexico for these procedures. Using an internationally accredited facility is not a guarantee that your medical care will be free of complications."

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Ashley Imlay covers state politics and breaking news for A lifelong Utahn, Ashley has also worked as a reporter for the Deseret News and is a graduate of Dixie State University.


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