Two US citizens dead after catching meningitis in Mexico hospital

MEXICO CITY, May 25 (Reuters) - Two U.S. citizens died after contracting meningitis while getting treatment in a hospital in the northern Mexican border city of Matamoros, authorities said on Thursday, as they investigated some 400 suspected cases.

"A contamination caused these deaths," Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a regular press conference when asked about reports of 10 deaths and 300-400 people being possibly affected by a contamination in hospitals at Matamoros, a city across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

Medication used for anesthesia in plastic surgeries got contaminated and was used at two private hospitals, said Lopez Obrador, who acknowledged deaths occurred without specifying how many.

A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Mexico confirmed two American citizens died in Matamoros, without specifying when or where.

Tamaulipas state's Health Minister Vicente Joel Hernandez said later in an interview there were five confirmed cases of meningitis in Matamoros and noted the fungus transmitting it somehow contaminated the anesthesia used in hospitals.

Hernandez said earlier in May his administration had been investigating 400 possible cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued on May 17 a health travel notice after some U.S. residents returning from Matamoros were diagnosed with suspected fungal meningitis infections, which have led to severe illness and death, according to a statement published on the embassy's web page.

Reporting by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Richard Chang

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