Potentially deadly fungal infections are spreading at an "alarming rate" across the US, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said this week. Candida auris is an emerging fungus considered as an "urgent antimicrobial resistance threat" and it is spreading through US healthcare facilities.
The CDC has described candida auris as "an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat". It is often multi-drug-resistant, difficult to identify and has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings.
In general, it is not a threat to healthy people, but can cause serious bloodstream infections and even death - particularly in hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems, according to CDC. The CDC announced the "rapid rise and geographic spread of cases" since it was first reported in the US in 2016 as concerning, and emphasized the need for surveillance. According to the CDC, clinical cases rose from 476 in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021 - the biggest yearly increase since 2016. You can get more health news and other story updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletters here.
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What is candida auris?
C.auris was first identified in Japan in 2009. According to the CDC, it is caused by a yeast (type of fungus) called Candida. Invasive candidiasis is a serious infection that can affect the blood, heart, brain, eyes, bones or other parts of the body. Antifungal medication can treat invasive candidiasis.
Dr Waleed Javaid, an epidemiologist, infectious disease expert and director of infection prevention and control at New York’s Mount Sinai Downtown told NBC news that while the findings were "worrisome", it did not mean that the world was going to experience an apocalypse like the one caused by an outbreak of cordyceps fungal infections on HBO's The Last of Us. He said: "We don’t want people who watched [the TV show] to think we’re all going to die."
Epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Lyman, lead author of the report into C.auris, said: “The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control."
What are the signs and symptoms of candida auris?
The most common symptoms include a high fever and chills which do not respond to antibiotic treatment for suspected bacterial infections. According to the CDC, it can be difficult to know which symptoms are related to the infection as patients who have developed candida auris are already sick from other medical conditions.
C.auris has caused the following infections:
- bloodstream infections
- wound infections
- ear infections
It is diagnosed by culture of blood or other bodily fluids but can be hard to identify from other cultures. Special lab tests are required.
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