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Outbreaks of a drug-resistant superbug fungus spreading in two U.S. cities

A strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at a CDC laboratory. Image courtesy of CDC, Public Domain.
A strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at a CDC laboratory. Image courtesy of CDC, Public Domain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday there were outbreaks of the Candida auris fungus in a nursing home in Washington D.C. and two hospitals in Dallas, Texas.

Candida auris, or C. auris, was first detected in 2009 and has been highly resistant to most of the available treatment options for several years, leaving people who treat and study fungal diseases concerned about the toll this superbug could take.

That there are now so-called pan-resistant cases in people who had never been treated with antifungal drugs is particularly unnerving, the CDC says.

A total of five cases, three in Washington, D.C., and two in Texas. are clustered within facilities. The facilities were not identified, but the fungus is most commonly diagnosed in very sick people who are in specialized long-term facilities.

There was no known link between the Washington and Texas cases. The cases were outlined in the CDC’s online journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

It is important to note that all five cases were resistant to all three major classes of antifungal medications, including azoles (e.g., fluconazole), polyenes (e.g., amphotericin B), and echinocandins.

The Hill is reporting that both the patients in Dallas who had cases resistant to medicine died and one patient in D.C. died from a similar case. The cases were seen from January to April, and investigators found the fungus was spread from person to person.

“This is really the first time we’ve started seeing clustering of resistance” and patients getting infected from each other, CDC medical officer Meghan Lyman said, reports CBS News.

The outbreak in the two locations is still ongoing. There were a total of 101 cases of the fungus identified in Washington, D.C., from January to April 2021, and three were isolated as being resistant to all three major classes of anti-fungal medications.

And 22 cases were identified at two facilities in Dallas. with two being resistant to all three anti-fungal medications, and five resistant to two of the medications.

Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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