CDC Issues Warning of Drug-Resistant Superbug Fungus After Facilities in 2 Cities Report Cases

The C.D.C. has issued a warning regarding a drug-resistant superbug fungus, Candida auris, that preys upon those with weakened immune systems.

The director of the National Reference Centre for Invasive Fungus Infections holds the yeast candida auris.

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The director of the National Reference Centre for Invasive Fungus Infections holds the yeast candida auris.

The CDC has issued a warning regarding a difficult-to-treat drug-resistant fungus that has spread throughout a pair of U.S. hospitals and nursing homes. 

In findings released last Thursday, researchers said the fungus, Candida auris, has gotten even more dangerous, identifying instances where it was immune to all existing medications.

There’s also evidence that suggests it spread from person-to-person, which would mark the first time that’s happened in the U.S. 

“This is really the first time we’ve started seeing clustering of resistance” where patients seemed to be getting the bug from other patients said one of the report’s authors. 

Candida auris was first described after it was found in a 70-year-old Japanese woman in 2009, and has since spread throughout most of the world. Federal health officials say it may have spread even more rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic because overburdened hospitals and nursing homes haven’t been able to keep up with tracking and control measures intended to subdue local outbreaks, according to The New York Times

The CDC’s new report says that in five of the 120+ new C. auris cases the fungus resisted treatment. 

Outbreaks took place at two separate locations between January and April. Most of those came at a long-term care center in Washington D.C., with another (smaller) outbreak at a hospital/long-term care facility in Texas. The clusters appear to be unrelated to one another. 

The CDC says that roughly 30 percent of infected patients died within 30 days, but it was noted that those patients were already gravely ill so it couldn’t be determined that the fungus caused those deaths. 

The fungus is of little harm to people in good health, but can be fatal for seriously ill patients with weakened immune systems.

In the past eight years the fungus was detected on the skin of more than 2,000 Americans, most of which were people in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and California. Of those confirmed to have the fungus between five and 10 percent went on to develop more severe bloodstream infections.

The New York Times writes that it’s difficult to get the fungus out of healthcare facilities once it gets in because of its ability to cling to surfaces. 

The fungus was already hard to treat, but this new development represents an instance where it didn’t respond to any antifungal medication. Previous reports state that three New York-based patients being treated for C. auris had a similar resistance, but this more recent spread happened in patients who never received antifungal drugs.

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