Super Fungus Cases on the Rise, CDC Warns ‘Serious Global Health Threat’

Drug-resistant “superbugs” (infections, not insects) have been on an alarming rise over the past decade or so and the CDC warns, this week, that a fungus common to hospital and nursing home patients could soon pose a serious global threat.  Indeed, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising that Candida auris has become more prolific all over the world, with 617 cases confirmed in the US and as well as in nearly two dozen other countries. 

C. auris is a somewhat common fungal disease that typically spreads in healthcare settings. It causes quite invasive infections and, unfortunately, does not respond to the usual treatments.  It was first identified in Japan, in 2009 but has been cropping up more steadily in the US since 2015. 

Symptoms of C. auris infection include fever and chills, at first; and standard antibiotics do not seem to affect it.  As the disease progresses it results in infection within the bloodstream as well as the ears or in any open wound. 

While the fungus generally proliferates in healthcare settings, the CDC has become more concerned about it as C. auris is not only hard to treat but it is actually quite difficult to diagnose.  Diagnosis requires specialized lab work and that complicates the matter since preventing its spread requires swift action. 

Although there is great concern about the fungus, it should be noted that Candida auris infection typically occurs in patients who already have some type of medical condition (and, thus, a weakened or compromised immune system).  Candida auris seems to particularly infect patients whose condition requires intrusive treatment (with a tube, for example).  

To be curt, healthy people typically do not get infected with C. auris.  However, the CDC advises that everyone should clean their hands using soap and hot water and/or hand sanitizer, especially when coming into contact with a patient who has the infection or with surfaces/equipment in their room.  

But while infection with C. auris is probably not likely for most of the population, the CDC warns that nearly 50 percent of people who contract the fungal infection typically die from its complications. The CDC also notes that 90 percent of US cases have been reported in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.