CDC Warns of Alarming Spread of Fungus in Hospitals
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Monday a deadly fungus is spreading across hospitals in the US.
It is called the Candida auris or C. auris. The CDC called it an “urgent threat” because it is a multidrug-resistant organism that causes deadly symptoms.
As a result, the agency asks healthcare facilities to identify patients with C.auris and take special precautions. Also, all US laboratory staff must warn their local or state authorities.
More details about the fungus spreading in US hospitals
The CDC warns that a drug-resistant and potentially deadly fungus is spreading through U.S. healthcare facilities. Here's what you need to know about Candida auris, which can cause severe illness in people with weakened immune systems. https://t.co/m02MNlHq67
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Candida is a type of yeast found on the skin and inside the body. Typically, it thrives in areas like the throat, mouth, gut, and vagina without causing health issues.
However, some types of Candida like C. auris can cause infections in older people and those struggling with other health problems.
Doctors first discovered C. auris in 2009, in the ear canal of a patient in Tokyo. It can enter the body during medical treatment.
For example, it could enter someone’s recent surgical wounds. The number of recorded cases is only in the thousands, so why is the CDC warning about it?
According to its recent report, some strains of C.auris is resistant to all three available types of antifungal treatments.
It is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, so labs may misidentify it without specific technology. Consequently, misidentification may lead to inadequate management.
More importantly, it has caused outbreaks in healthcare facilities. At the time of writing, the CDC has detected it in more than half of US states.
Worse, the number of infections has been rapidly growing by 59% or 756 cases from 2019 to 2020. Then, it rose to an additional 95% or 1,471 cases in 2021.
Researchers also discovered the deadly fungus in hospitals is colonizing more people. “Colonized” people have C.auris, but they do not exhibit symptoms.
Still, they could potentially transmit it to more vulnerable people. The number of asymptomatic people rose to 21% from 2019 to 2020.
Then, it increased by a whopping 209% in 2021. In other words, the number of cases increased by 1,310 in 2020 and 4,041 in 2021.
Is the deadly fungus in hospitals similar to the “Zombie Fungus?”
If you’ve watched “The Last of Us,” then you’re probably worried about the deadly fungus in hospitals.
However, the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, or cordyceps, does not transmit to humans. The HBO show features a fictional mutant version of the fungus.
The human body is too warm for the fungus, so it prefers colder animals like insects. Also, our bodies are too complex for cordyceps infections.
Dr. Waleed Javaid, an epidemiologist at Mount Sinai Downtown NY, reassured people who might be comparing the C. auris outbreak to the “Zombie Fungus.”
“But we don’t want people who watched ‘The Last of Us’ to think we’re all going to die,” Javaid said.
“This is an infection that occurs in extremely ill individuals who are usually sick with a lot of other issues,” the doctor added.
Dr. Graham Snyder, medical director of infection prevention at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said the CDC is making sure it doesn’t spread outside of hospitals.
He compared it to the drug-resistant bacteria MRSA. “It’s not unusual to see MRSA in the community now,” Snyder said.
“Will that happen with C. auris? I don’t know. That’s partly why the CDC is raising the alarm,” he added.
You can protect yourself by following proper hygiene, such as washing your hands. Also, hospitals must ensure the cleanliness of their facilities.