SAN BENITO, Texas(ValleyCentral) — Cameron county health leaders are warning of fungal meningitis. Dr. James Castillo says the illness is rare and not contagious, but people still need to practice caution.

Fungal meningitis impacts the nervous system and stems from the spread of different fungi to the brain or spinal cord. While the illness is not contagious, it is a concern for health experts due to the death rate.

In the past, outbreaks had a death rate between 30% to 40% of those infected. Those who have traveled to Matamoros, Mexico, for cosmetic surgery could have been at risk of contracting fungal meningitis.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that more than 200 U.S. patients may be at risk for fungal meningitis after undergoing surgical procedures at clinics in Matamoros.

The CDC has issued a travel advisory for those planning on selective procedures across the border until authorities can prove there is no longer a threat.

“There’s been about 70 people exposed. It is not contagious. So, people with this cannot give it to other people. You can’t catch this,” said Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo. “The way they’re we suspect that they’re getting it is from the epidural anesthetic where you’re injecting medicine into that space.”

Health officials say two clinics where patients contracted fungal meningitis were already shut down. There is an investigation underway into what caused the contamination.

There are many ways to contract meningitis – but this outbreak is suspected to be caused by epidural anesthetics for cosmetic procedures. Symptoms may not show immediately and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.

Castillo says while meningitis is curable, it can also leave permanent damage and even lead to death. 

“Sometimes a person can have no symptoms at the beginning, but then they can eventually get very subtle things like a headache, then that headache can get worse and worse, lead to fever, neck stiffness, trouble thinking neurologic impairments. And then obviously that can get worse and worse until the person is basically septic,” Castillo said.

The CDC said it is working with the Mexican Ministry of Health and local and state officials to respond to the Matamoros outbreak.

If you develop any symptoms – you are asked to contact your doctor.

The Hill contributed to this report.