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

Warm temperatures here to stay in Kelowna

Spring has finally sprung in the Central Okanagan

Kelowna welcomes building permit applications for “earth homes”

Kelowna welcomes carriage and container “earth homes” when mandatory inspections are completed

Kelowna suspect charged in string of bank robberies

RCMP have charged a 58-year-old man with three counts of robbery

Blasting begins in Mission Hill area

The blasting in West Kelowna will begin March 21 and end March 27

Mission Creek Greenway gets pruned

Vegetation pruning will continue until the end of the month

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

EDITORIAL: The quest to assign blame

Instead of sympathy, some have worked to distance themselves from these attacks or to assign blame.

High number of commercial vehicles taken off road disappoints

Trucking association notes enforcement checks target problem trucks, lobbies for mandatory training

‘Considerably large’ tractor tire fell and killed 3-year-old girl on B.C. farm

Delta’s deputy fire chief said crews tried to helicopter girl out after a tractor tire leaning against a barn fell onto her

B.C. nordic skier travels to Russia for biathlon

Tayla Koerber skied for Team Canada at the international event

Compassionate response to New Zealand shootings resonates

City of Salmon Arm offers condolences and support for Muslim community, at home and abroad

Nearly 40% of British Columbians not taking their medications correctly: poll

Introduction of legal cannabis could cause more issues for drug interactions

Mining company fined $70,000 after two workers killed in B.C. truck crash

Broda Construction pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe workplace at Cranbrook rock quarry

Most Read