The number of cases of Candida auris (C. auris), a dangerous multidrug-resistant fungus, in the U.S. has grown from 7 to 122 over the past 9 months, the CDC says in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report[1]

C. auris can cause severe illness and high mortality (60%), especially among patients who are in intensive-care units, those with a central venous catheter, and people who have received antibiotics or antifungal medications. [1] [2]

Sharon Tsay, lead author and an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the CDC, says:

“It seems to affect the sickest of the sick patients, particularly those in hospitals and nursing homes with other medical problems.” [1]

There have been 77 confirmed cases of C. auris in U.S. hospitals. Upon examining the patients’ close contacts, another 45 cases were identified, for a total of 122 U.S. patients with the fungal infection as of May 12. Among the original 77 patients, the patients’ average age was 70, and 55% were men.

Read: First Cases of Drug-Resistant Candida Auris Spreading in U.S. Hospitals

Of the 122 total cases, the majority were reported in healthcare facilities in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. Most of the patients were chronically ill and spent long stretches at high-acuity skilled nursing facilities. [2]

According to the CDC:

“In Illinois, 3 cases were associated with the same long-term care facility. In New York and New Jersey, cases were identified in multiple acute care hospitals, but further investigation found most had overlapping stays at interconnected long-term care facilities and acute care hospitals within a limited geographic area. The case in Massachusetts was linked to the Illinois cases.”

The good news: none of the infections reported in the U.S. were resistant to all available antifungal drugs. However, according to Paige Armstrong, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer for the CDC, the fungus is “acting a lot like some super bacteria that we’ve seen previously.” [1]

CDC analysis of the first 35 clinical isolates showed that 86% were resistant to fluconazole, 43% were resistant to amphotericin B, and 3% were resistant to echinocandins. [2]

Invasive candidiasis – when the yeast gets into the bloodstream – is the most dangerous type of fungal infection. But C. auris can also make its way into respiratory tract, urine, bile fluid and even bone, leaving doctors scratching their heads as to why the fungus seems to linger, and what other infections it might cause. [3]

Read: Deadly Fungal Infection a Growing Concern in U.S. Hospitals

Says Tsay:

“The fact that it has been found in other sites may also reflect its ability to persist on a patient’s body and be spread in the environment around them – one of (the) reasons that C. auris is causing outbreaks.”

The CDC is monitoring the situation. New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said during a recent press conference:

“It is important for New Yorkers to understand C. auris poses no risk to the general public. We’re taking aggressive actions to contain its spread in hospitals and nursing homes.”

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] Medscape

[3] Science Alert

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About Julie Fidler:
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Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.