Scary new fungus ‘candida auris’: what is it? Who is sensitive?
Cases of a potentially deadly fungus have risen at an alarming rate – prompting a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that it is an ‘urgent threat’ in a recent statement on a newly published study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Cases soared nearly 200%, from 476 cases in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021 — and those cases were detected in more than half of US states, according to the CDC report.
Candida auris or C. Auris is a fungus that is commonly found in hospital settings and long-term care facilities.
It is a type of yeast.
CDC SAYS DEADLY FUNGI CASES HAVE TRIPLED IN PAST YEARS
It can cause serious infections and death in people who are immunocompromised or have underlying medical conditions and indwelling devices, health experts told Fox News Digital.
The first case in the United States dates back to 2013, with the first cases having been discovered mainly in New York and Chicago, according to the report published by the CDC.
“Candida auris is a yeast strain that was found in a hospital setting,” Dr. Frederick Davis, associate director of emergency medicine at Northwell Health in Long Island New York, told Fox News Digital.
The problem with this particular strain, he said, is that “many recent cases have been found to be resistant to drugs commonly used to treat the infection and, in the limited number of cases, have had a mortality rate of 30% to 60%”.
“In chronically ill patients in healthcare settings, it can enter the bloodstream through open wound areas.”
Davis was not involved in the CDC report.
He said the fungus “is generally not a threat to healthy people. In some people, it can reside on the skin and around the mouth or rectum and cause no symptoms or concerns. It is what is called asymptomatic colonization”.
However, he said, “in chronically ill patients in healthcare settings, it can enter the bloodstream through areas of open wounds and lead to symptomatic infection.”
Those with an implanted device are more susceptible to this type of infection because the devices provide a surface for the fungus to colonize, the emergency physician said.
A POTENTIALLY DEADLY DRUG RESISTANT FUNGUS SPREADING RAPIDLY IN US
Catheters could also be a source of transmission, he said, because they are typically inserted multiple times through the skin, where the candida will reside.
The fungus is resistant to many drugs that would be used to treat it.
“While most candida infections can present as a red patchy rash, the main concern is when candida enters the bloodstream through an open wound. This will lead to fever and sepsis.”
Davis said that includes symptoms such as a racing heartbeat and low blood pressure.
The other major concern about this, as shared by health experts on Fox News Digital, was that this type of fungus is resistant to many drugs that would be used to treat it.
“There are many types of antifungals; some of them work, and some don’t,” said Aaron Glatt, MD, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Long Island, New York.
“The concern is that these candida auris [infections] are already becoming resistant to many types of antifungals available, so you’re really limited in how you deal with them,” he said.
“Insects, fungi — they adapt,” Glatt said.
Precautions such as wearing gloves and gowns and proper hand washing could help limit exposure.
He understood the fungus’ ability to adapt, much like a person adapts by putting on a sweater when it’s cold.
This adaptability of this fungus strain creates a threat to patients with underlying medical conditions, he said.
“This is becoming increasingly concerning in very immunocompromised patients,” he said.
The infectious disease expert said that while this type of fungal infection is not something healthy people usually need to worry about, they should be aware of preventing the spread of the fungus, especially in nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care. units with vulnerable populations.
Precautions such as wearing gloves and gowns and proper hand washing could help limit exposure and help prevent the spread of this strain of fungus.
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According to the authors of the CDC report, a possibility of a dramatic increase in fungal cases could be due to the reduction of infection control measures during the pandemic, due to the pressure exerted by COVID-19 on health systems. .
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The strain has led to staff and equipment shortages, increased use of antimicrobials, and increased disease severity in patients.