Health agency hunts for Canadians who had surgery at Tijuana clinic

The health agency is looking for anyone who underwent weight-loss surgeries at the Grand View Hospital in Tijuana

The Public Health Agency of Canada says at least 30 Canadians who had surgery at a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico are at risk of potentially deadly infection.

But the agency isn’t sure, because of the difficulty in responding to health alerts in other countries.

An investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control last month found Canadians underwent weight-loss surgeries at the Grand View Hospital in Tijuana, just like American patients who became infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. Tijuana is right next to the U.S. border, close to San Diego.

“It may be that we never know the exact number of Canadians involved,” said Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public-health officer. “We’re trying to ensure that all patients … should be having communications from the treating facility to inform them of their potential risk so that they can do medical follow-ups.”

READ MORE: Maple Ridge mom calls for mandatory measles shots

The federal public-health agency issued a notice Wednesday recommending patients who went to the Grand View Hospital, or other Tijuana facilities, starting last August, seek medical help immediately if they’re experiencing signs of infection, including fever, redness, or pus or swelling at the surgical site.

The bacteria involved is called pseudomonas aeruginosa, and it’s a known hazard in medical settings, especially for patients who have had surgery.

The health agency also warns of risk of blood-borne infections including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C due to poor equipment sterilization at Grand View. Other patients are advised to avoid the hospital until Mexican authorities give the all-clear.

Medical tourism presents a challenge to health authorities because Canadians are under no obligation to report when they’ve had treatments abroad, Njoo said.

“We can’t demand or track any Canadian who decides to go overseas,” said Njoo. “Anyone could be going abroad for tourism and if that includes going for an elective procedure in a medical facility that’s not something that we would necessarily be aware of.”

READ MORE: B.C. looks to create witness security program

A 2017 survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found Canadians were the third-biggest market for plastic surgery outside their home country, behind only Americans and Spaniards.

According to Statistics Canada, overseas health-related spending by Canadians rose from $447 million in 2013 to $690 million in 2017.

Stephen Cook, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

RANCH MUSINGS: As we prepare for planting

This year we say how much garden can we handle with just ourselves and some family help

Track and field athletes reveal community spirit

Sheppard pointed to acts of genuine kindness during the two-day event as his highlights

Race For Kids on for teams of two Saturday, June 1

Registration is open for the fifth annual Race For Kids Fundraiser

PHOTOS: Legion hosts May’s biannual fashion show

Held in the Spring and the Fall every year, this show is a night of fashion and bonding

Bike to work and school week, May 27 to June 2

With vehicle emissions responsible for 30 per cent of pollutants in Williams Lake’s air quality, the week offers residents the opportunity to make a difference

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read