Deadly Fungus Invades US Hospitals May 5, 2017 18:00:37 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on May 5, 2017 18:00:37 GMT -5
Deadly Fungus Invades US Hospitals
A deadly “superbug” fungus that is hard to spot and harder to kill is slowly infiltrating US hospitals, health experts say. Candida auris enters the bloodstream, spreads throughout the body and causes a variety of infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns. More than 60 cases have been identified in the US, primarily in New York and New Jersey. The CDC has alerted hospitals and other health care facilities across the nation to watch out for the relatively new fungus.
The fungus can be passed from person-to-person and through such things as contaminated hospital equipment, furnishings, etc. says Dr. Tom Chiller, chief of the CDC’s Mycotic (fungal) Diseases Branch. “It appears that C. auris arrived in the United States only in the past few years,” he continues.
Global Outbreak. According to the CDC, the disease was first identified in 2009 in a Japanese patient who had an ear ailment. The fungus has caused a global outbreak and been detected in Britain, India, Israel and many other countries. It appears as a bloodstream infection and has defied treatment from antifungal drugs.
An alert was issued by the CDC in June 2016 asking US laboratories to report suspected cases of the fungus to federal, state and local healthcare departments. The outbreak is likely to compound the task of healthcare authorities worldwide who are already struggling to control antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The toll from drug-resistant superbug bacteria is already high, with close to 25,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of people worldwide dying from superbug strains annually.
Symptoms of C. Auris. According to experts, C. auris is an ascomycetous species of fungus and grows as yeast. It causes candidiasis infections which can cause difficulty in swallowing, burning sensations, genital itching and the discharge of white fluids. The CDC reports that all patients affected in the US had become very ill. Victims have included a paraplegic in Illinois whose catheter was attacked by C. auris and others in New Jersey, New York and Maryland. According to CDC officials, most patients had severe medical conditions, including cancer, and had been hospitalized for a period longer than two weeks when they tested positive. However, doctors are still unsure if their deaths were caused by the killer fungus or underlying health problems. Patients who have a catheter in a large vein appear to be among those facing the highest risk of infection. The fungus has caused bloodstream, wound and ear infections. It also has been found in respiratory and urine specimens, but it is unclear if it was the cause of these infections. “Candida auris can kill and probably is killing,” Chiller adds. “We are seeing a 30% death rate, but these are often very sick people with a lot of medical problems when they get it. It’s hard to determine how much of [the death toll] is really related to the fungus.”
Difficult to Identify. One of the major challenges of C. auris, including finding a cure, is the difficulty in identifying the fungus, which requires special laboratory facilities. Otherwise, most samples are misidentified as other fungal species, the CDC said.
Sources: John Bacon, USA Today, May 4, 2015, and Kaylan Kumar, Tech Times, November 5, 2016.