Ministry of Health specialists have announced that the number of visits to medical facilities in Tierra Blanca de Abajo has increased, following the detection of erionite in the atmosphere of this remote community of San Miguel de Allende.
Several actions are being carried out in the region to tackle this health issue, including the provision of medical care services at a Cruz del Palmar clinic. UNAM health experts are also conducting surveys to identify the factors at stake in order to pinpoint or rule out the causes of the disease.
Last week, a.m. San Miguel published the results of UNAM’s initial study, in which researchers uncovered a link between malignant mesothelioma—the primary cause of death within the community—and the presence of erionita in the village’s atmosphere. The study was led by Adrián Ortega y Gerardo Carrasco, from the Center of Geosciences (CGeo) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Juriquilla, Querétaro.
As outlined in this study, mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the thin layers of tissue lining the lungs and chest cavity (the pleura), the smooth membrane that lines the abdomen (the peritoneum) or the sac containing the heart (pericardium). The symptoms of this serious condition tend to appear in the advanced stages of the disease, making it difficult to detect early on in order to apply preventative treatment.
According to the Ministry of Health, blood samples and chest x-rays of patients suffering from chronic respiratory disorders have been taken to conduct further laboratory testing at the Regional Specialty Services Hospital of the Bajío and the Regional Hospital of León.
From the moment the first cases were detected, experts have kept a close eye on Tierra Blanca. As confirmed by community members themselves, health authorities have found that those who contract the disease have been exposed to the carcinogenic agent that causes the infection for at least 15 to 20 years, on the grounds that newcomers to the community have never exhibited symptoms.