Published: Tue, April 09, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Deadly, drug-resistant fungus spreading through hospitals — CDC

Deadly, drug-resistant fungus spreading through hospitals — CDC

If you flipped through the New York Times over the weekend, you may still be feeling unnerved by a worrisome story about Candida auris, a mysterious fungus that poses a threat to people with weakened immune systems and has been rearing its risky head in hospitals around the globe.

According to the Times, people with compromised or weakened immune systems - including elderly people, people who are already sick, and newborns - are the most vulnerable. Contracting the fungal infection can lead to other health problems, including bloodstream infection, wound infections and ear infections.

The deadly and pervasive yeast-fungus called Candida auris is on the rise across the U.S. And health officials are now warning about how fast it's spreading in health care facilities, especially nursing homes and hospitals.

Almost half of the patients who are infected with the C. auris die in 90 days.

As of March 29, there have been 587 confirmed clinical cases of C. auris infection in the United States, according to the CDC.

The report mentions one case from last May when an elderly man was admitted to the Brooklyn offshoot of Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery in New York City. IL had 144 confirmed cases and New Jersey had 104. Tests revealed that the fungus was everywhere in the patient's room, and the situation so serious that the hospital needed special cleaning equipment and had to dismantle several ceilings and floor tiles to make it disappear from its surface.

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In both cases, the infections seemed to be imported from overseas as there were no reports of a Candida auris outbreak from Singapore, the report said. As a result, just like many others who contract the illness it causes, the man died within 90 days.

In the United Kingdom, an intensive care unit had to shut down after they found 72 people there were infected with candida auris, and in Spain, a hospital found 372 patients had the fungus.

[Image: courtesy of CDC] Globally, more than two dozen countries have reported either single or multiple cases of Candida auris, affecting every continent accept Antarctica.

The rise in antibiotics and antifungals has come with a price: a rise in harmful bacteria and fungi that has become resistant to these antimicrobial drugs.

There has been little coverage on this global outbreak, mostly because many hospitals and governments are reluctant to disclose such outbreaks for fear of being seen as infection hubs, The New York Times reported. Most deaths occur within 90 days. Oliver Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Royal Brompton Hospital, a hospital where C. auris had spread in 2015, said "there was no need to put out a news release during the outbreak". According to the CDC, 1 in 10 people the agency screened for superbugs carried a drug-resistant disease without knowing it.

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