Seven people have died after contracting fungal meningitis linked to medical procedures they received in Mexico, according to reports.

According to CNN, at least 161 Americans are at risk of contracting the disease after receiving epidural anesthesia from either of two clinics in Matamoros, Mexico: River Side Surgical Center or Clinica K-3.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been spreading news of the outbreak so people who may be infected can get tested immediately. They are advising anyone who was given medical assistance in one of the clinics from Jan. 1 to May 13 of this year to visit the nearest emergency room for immediate diagnosis.

The Meningitis Research Foundation says that symptoms can include stiff neck pain, nausea and vomiting, a delirious mental state and severe headache. Fungal meningitis cannot be spread from person to person.

CDC spokesperson Thomas Skinner told The Washington Post that the organization is taking a “multiprong approach” by using social media and advertisements to get the outbreak information out.

Fungal meningitis

“The incubation period for this organism is long and variable, so there are probably a number of individuals (who) still may be at risk of getting sick,” Skinner said. “It’s imperative that we try to reach them to encourage them to go in and see their doctor and, if necessary, get tested.”

Related
Don’t forget your sunscreen — Utah still has the highest skin cancer rates in the nation
Does the artificial sweetener aspartame cause cancer?

Fungal meningitis attacks the body by spreading through the bloodstream into the central nervous system. The clinics where the disease was spread have both been shut down for not properly cleaning medical tools, resulting in the spread of the infection, per reports.

Medical tourism

Many Americans seek medical procedures outside of the U.S. for a cheaper option. As of 2015, medical tourism attracts between 150,000 to 320,000 Americans to leave the U.S. annually, per the United States International Trade Commission.

Scott Roberts, an infectious-disease physician at Yale, told The Washington Post, “I’m assuming it’s the overwhelming cost of health care in the United States, where it’s so much cheaper abroad. There’s that enticement for people to seek these medical cosmetic procedures elsewhere, and that comes with risk.”

Alondra Lomas traveled to Mexico for plastic surgery and is one of the confirmed cases of fungal meningitis from Clinica K-3. She told ABC News that she began to feel back pain and headaches, but when she contacted the doctor who performed her surgery, she was left without real answers.

Once her symptoms worsened, she visited her local hospital in Phoenix, where doctors told her she would have died if she had waited any longer to seek help.

The CDC recommends that anyone diagnosed needs to be treated with antifungal medication as soon as possible.