Journal Article

Outbreak of <i>Mycobacterium abscessus</i> Wound Infections among “Lipotourists” from the United States Who Underwent Abdominoplasty in the Dominican Republic

E. Yoko Furuya, Armando Paez, Arjun Srinivasan, Robert Cooksey, Michael Augenbraun, Miriam Baron, Karen Brudney, Phyllis Della-Latta, Concepcion Estivariz, Staci Fischer, Mary Flood, Pamela Kellner, Carmen Roman, Mitchell Yakrus, Don Weiss and Eric V. Granowitz

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 46, issue 8, pages 1181-1188
Published in print April 2008 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI:
Outbreak of Mycobacterium abscessus Wound Infections among “Lipotourists” from the United States Who Underwent Abdominoplasty in the Dominican Republic

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Background. Some US residents travel abroad to undergo cosmetic surgery for fat removal, a practice referred to as “lipotourism.” Mycobacterium abscessus can cause postsurgical wound infection.

Methods. US residents who developed M. abscessus wound infection after undergoing cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic in 2003 and 2004 were identified using the Emerging Infections Network listserv.

Results. Twenty returning US travelers with M. abscessus infection were detected. Eight patients had matching isolates, as determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and repetitive element polymerase chain reaction. All 8 patients, who had previously been healthy Hispanic women, underwent abdominoplasties at the same clinic in the Dominican Republic. Symptoms first developed 2–18 weeks after the procedure (median interval, 7 weeks). Only 2 of the 8 patients received a correct diagnosis at the initial presentation. Most patients presented with painful, erythematous, draining subcutaneous abdominal nodules. Seven patients underwent drainage procedures. Six patients received a combination of antibiotics that included a macrolide plus cefoxitin, imipenem, amikacin, and/or linezolid; 2 received clarithromycin monotherapy. All patients but 1 were cured after a median of 9 months of therapy (range, 2–12 months). Because of a lack of access to the surgical clinic, the cause of the outbreak of infection was not identified. The patients who were infected with nonmatching isolates underwent surgeries in different facilities but otherwise had demographic characteristics and clinical presentations similar to those of the 8 patients infected with matching isolates.

Conclusions. This case series of M. abscessus infection in US “lipotourists” highlights the risks of traveling abroad for surgery and the potential role of the Internet in identifying and investigating outbreaks.

Journal Article.  3763 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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