Almost three dozen people have been diagnosed with an infection caused by Candida auris
, a species of fungus that grows as a yeast. It is one of the few species in the Candida
genus responsible for Candidiasis infections. C. auris
causes bloodstream, wound and ear infections
in immunocompromised patients.
According to the Washington Post
, a total of 35 people in five states that include Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York have been confirmed to have C. auris
infections that showed a mortality rate of 60 percent.
An additional 18 patients were harboring the yeast but showed no outward signs of infection. The CDC also notes that this latest case count reflects infections dating from May 2013, when the first case was identified in the U.S. through February 16, 2017.
This particular strain of Candida was first discovered in the ear canal of a patient in Japan. Since that time, C. auris
, which is contagious, has spread to at least a dozen countries on five continents, including the United States, Colombia, India, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Pakistan, South Korea, Venezuela and the United Kingdom.
This is not your "garden-variety" fungus
This fungus can spread easily from person-to-person in hospitals or other health-care settings. It lives for weeks on the skin, bed rails, chairs, and other hospital equipment. The fungus is also resistant to all three major classes of antifungal drugs.
The CDC's Acting Director, Anne Schuchat said at a recent briefing that "scary," and "difficult to combat" is an excellent description of this fungus. She pointed out that unless a laboratory has the right technology, the fungus could be misidentified.
She added that the CDC encourages all U.S. laboratory staff who identify C. auris
strains to notify their state or local public health authorities and CDC at email@example.com
There is one good bit of information that has come out about the fungus - So far, it hasn't evolved into any new strains in the U.S. This makes it easier to control, and is still treatable with existing drugs, unlike in other countries where the fungus has proven to be drug-resistant.