'We're holding up a floodgate': B.C. fights off superbugs brought home by medical tourists
2019-02-09 from cbc.ca
The risks involved in medical tourism aren't just personal. Having surgery abroad could also mean bringing back a drug-resistant superbug and putting people in this country at risk, B.C. officials warn.
That alert comes after the recent discovery that two patients at New Westminster's Royal Columbian Hospital had been colonized with the multidrug-resistant yeast Candida auris. Though neither patient is infected with the bug, the two join just a handful of cases that have been identified in B.C. since 2017.
Dr. Linda Hoang, medical co-director for the Provincial Infection Control Network (PICNet), said most of these cases have come from travellers who have had treatment overseas, including medical tourists.
It means patients need to do serious research on the facilities they're considering for surgeries or other treatments abroad, including looking for objective information about the presence of any drug-resistant microorganisms.
"It's not only a problem in India or Southeast Asia. It is endemic in parts of the U.S. and parts of Europe," Hoang told CBC News.
"It [antibiotic-resistant superbugs] is a global problem, and the only way to to be aware of them is to make sure that health-care professionals are informed and our residents are informed when they're seeking health care outside of British Columbia."
It's a sobering reminder for those who travel abroad for medical treatments, whether it's to skip the surgery wait list in B.C., access therapies that aren't approved in Canada or save money on cosmetic therapy. Some of the top destinations for medical tourists from around the world include India, Mexico, Southeast Asia, Brazil and Turkey, according to the Medical Tourism Association.
But facilities in other countries can sometimes take a more haphazard approach to prescribing antibiotics, and overuse can trigger the evolution of resistance to these crucial drugs.
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