The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a warning about a potentially deadly fungus Candida auris that has been detected in over half of U.S. states. According to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, cases of Candida auris, or C. Auris, have risen almost 200% from 476 cases in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021.
Who is Susceptible?
Candida auris is a type of yeast that is commonly found in hospital settings and long-term care facilities. It can cause severe infections and even death in those who are immunocompromised or have underlying medical issues and indwelling devices. The first case in the United States was detected in 2013, mainly in New York City and Chicago.
According to health experts, the main concern with this fungus is that many recent cases have been found to be resistant to commonly used medications, with a limited number of cases resulting in a 30% to 60% mortality rate. Those with implanted devices are at a higher risk of infection as the devices offer a surface for the fungus to colonize. Catheters could also be a source of transmission, as they are usually inserted many times through the skin, where candida will reside.
While most candida infections can present as a red patchy rash, the main concern is when candida gets into the bloodstream through an open wound, leading to fevers and sepsis. Unfortunately, this type of fungus is resistant to many drugs that would be used to treat it, and it is becoming more of a concern in immunocompromised patients.
Candida auris: What you should know about the fungus spreading in U.S. hospitals
Aaron Glatt, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital on Long Island, New York, explained that while this type of fungal infection is not typically a concern for healthy people, it is crucial to prevent the spread of the fungus, especially in nursing homes, hospitals, and long-term care units. Precautions such as wearing gloves and gowns and properly washing hands could help limit the exposure and prevent the spread of this fungus strain.