Potentially deadly drug-resistant fungus spreading in hospitals, including Florida

Posted April 10, 2019

Specifically, the hospital told PIX11 News in a statement, "As a health system, we have been at the forefront of developing infection prevention protocols working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH)".

The Center for Disease Control reports almost half of patients who contract Candida auris die, and the fungi spreads very easily and can take over a hospital room, leading some hospitals to keep the outbreak quiet to avoid public hysteria, according to the report. He died after 90 days. The fungus has also been identified in India, Pakistan and South Africa. As you can see from the map below, New York, New Jersey, and IL have seen the most cases by far-with more than 550 cases between them.

Candida auris can enter the bloodstream and spread rapidly, wreaking havoc throughout the body, causing serious invasive infections. The infection can become fatal in 30%-60% of patients.

The germ has been found in patients of all ages, from preterm infants to older adults. It was first discovered in 2009 in Japan, but an analysis of Candida strains revealed it was already identified in 1996 in South Korea.

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It is called Candida auris (C. auris) and they are concerned for three main reasons. It's unclear to researchers if its the fungus that causes death or if Candida auris weakens a person's immune system to such a degree that the patient succumbs to other maladies.

According to Dr Ling Moi Lin, Director, Infection Prevention and Epidemiology, Singapore General Hospital, the current known mode of transmission for Candida auris is by contact transmission and not droplet or airborne transmission. Treatments still exist but it is resistant to many antifungal drugs and has developed new mechanisms of resistance in some patients within weeks.

How are Candida auris infections diagnosed?

Candida auris shown on a petri dish.

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The most worrying characteristic about Candida auris is its resistance to major antifungal drugs, which are typically used to treat such infections. But with drug-resistant fungi and bacteria, their genes evolve so quickly that the treatment meant to target them proves ineffective and allows the risky disease to spread.

The fungus has been found on surfaces in hospital rooms and on the skin of nurses and patients - even after patients were treated with antifungal medications. The CDC reported 45% of the clinical case-patients died within 90 days.

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.

Healthcare institutions here have measures in place to prevent and control healthcare-related infections, including C. auris, and are required to report any outbreaks, but no outbreak was reported, the spokesman said.

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