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Everything You Need to Know About the Deadly Fungal Infection Spreading in the US

While countries are just on the road to “normalcy” after the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors across the US report numerous cases of a deadly fungal infection called Candida auris. According to a CDC report, the cases in the US doubled in 2021 – from 756 to 1,457. While the disease is dangerous for the weak or those with chronic illnesses, it may not adversely affect clinically healthy people.

In this Pacific Prime article, we will learn more about C. auris fungal infection and its symptoms.

What Is Candida auris?

Healthcare facilities in several countries have been reporting cases of severe illness in patients caused by a type of yeast known as Candida auris. This yeast has been found to enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing severe invasive infections, particularly in patients who have been hospitalized for a long time, have a central venous catheter, or have had lines or tubes inserted into their body, or have previously received antibiotics or antifungal medications.

Unfortunately, this yeast does not respond well to commonly used antifungal drugs, making treatment challenging. Additionally, specialized laboratory methods are needed to accurately identify C. auris, as conventional laboratory techniques may lead to misidentification and improper management, making it challenging to control the spread of this yeast in healthcare settings.

To prevent the spread of C. auris in the US, the CDC is alerting healthcare facilities to be vigilant and on the lookout for this yeast in their patients.

Why Is CDC Concerned about C. auris Infections?

The CDC is warning health authorities against C. auris for three main reasons:

  1. C. auris can be resistant to multiple antifungal drugs that are usually used to treat Candida infections. This makes it challenging to treat.
  2. It can be tough to identify in regular laboratory tests, and there is a risk of misidentification, which could lead to incorrect treatment.
  3. C. auris has been known to cause outbreaks in healthcare facilities, so it’s crucial to identify it quickly in hospitalized patients. This way, healthcare providers can take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the infection.

Who Is at Risk?

The good news is that healthy people are not at risk from C. auris. However, people with a weak immune system or who use medical devices for life support, such as ventilators or catheters, could sometimes suffer severe illness or death.

The CDC is calling C. auris an “urgent antimicrobial resistance threat” as most of the cases tested were immune to antifungal treatment. Currently, the majority of the patients are in elderly care homes and hospitals.

Is C. auris Infection Treatable?

Antifungal drugs named echinocandins are used to treat most C. auris infections. However, in some cases, the infection is immune to all three kinds of antifungal drugs, making it hard to treat. In such cases, high doses of multiple classes of antifungal drugs may be required to treat the infection.

Can Someone Die from C. auris Infection?

Invasive C. auris infections could be deadly. However, the CDC is unsure if people suffering from invasive infections are more likely to die than patients with other Candida infections. Based on the limited information, 30-60% of people with C. auris infections have passed away.

What Are the Symptoms of the Deadly Fungal Infection Spreading Across the US?

  • Identifying the symptoms of C. auris infection is challenging as most affected are already sick in the hospital and suffering from another serious illness.
  • The symptoms of infection depend on the body part that is affected. For instance, the fungus could cause different types of infections, such as bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections.
  • Since the symptoms of C. auris can vary from one person to another, a laboratory test is required to identify the fungus.

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