Meningitis outbreak in northern Mexico leaves 35 people dead

A meningitis outbreak in northern Mexico has left 35 people dead and health authorities working to get the outbreak under control.

Health officials in the state of Durango have recorded 79 cases of meningitis in the last several months, a worrying trend in a largely rural area of Mexico. Meningitis causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes and is typically caused by an infection of some sort.

The first cluster of 11 cases of meningitis in Durango was recorded in November of last year, with all 11 people the cluster having undergone surgical procedures and requiring the administration epidural anesthesia in private hospitals in the city of Durango, the capital city of the state of the same name.

Health officials reportedly reamin uncertain about exactly what caused the outbreak of the disease, but in December, local prosecutors advanced one theory: that private hospitals caused the outbreak by treating patients with contaminated anesthetics.

Prosecutors said then that they had issued arrest warrants against the owners or directors of four private hospitals in the area where the outbreak occurred, suggesting that the hospitals were directly to blame for the contaminated anesthetics and that the medicine had not been corrupted in production or transportation.

Mexican health officials confirmed last year that they are working with public health officials in Durango in their ongoing efforts to determine the cause of the outbreak. The World Health Organisation has also offered assistance to Mexican authorities in their investigations into what caused the outbreak and how it can best be brought under control.

Durango, with a population of just under 2 million, is one of the most sparsely populated states in Mexico. It is located in the northwestern part of the country, sharing a border with five other states including Zacatecas, Sinaloa, and Chihuahua.