In a scene right out of the HBO hit series and PlayStation franchise ‘The Last Of Us’, a fungi infection is spreading through healthcare facilities in the US.
Candida auris, a drug-resistant fungus that could lead to fatal infections, is spreading rapidly throughout US healthcare facilities. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cases of Candida auris have doubled in 2021. Additionally, some reports are suggesting that it could be responsible for several deaths in Mississippi.
What is Candida Auris?
Candida auris is a species of Candida, which is a common yeast that causes human infections. Unlike other Candida species, C. auris is a relatively new type of fungus, having been first identified in Japan in 2009. Since then, it has rapidly spread, both in terms of the number of cases and the countries where it has been reported.
Why is it Potentially Dangerous?
Candida auris can spread through person-to-person transmission. Also, it can spread by contact with contaminated surfaces, making it unique among other types of fungus. Standard disinfectant wipes cannot kill it, and it can be resistant to multiple antifungal drugs. Although most healthy individuals are not at risk of infection, those with weakened immune systems or who are immunocompromised are at high risk. These include hospital or nursing home patients who have or have had lines and tubes in their bodies as they are more prone to infections.
What are the Symptoms
If the fungi enter the bloodstream, they can create an invasive infection. Symptoms include fever and chills that don’t go away after treatment with antibiotics. Some patients have no symptoms but can spread it to other people.
Several strains of Candida auris infections are multi-drug resistant. However, there is a class of antifungal drugs called echinocandins that can be used and given intravenously. In some cases, multiple high doses may be required if the infection is resistant to all three main classes of drugs.
Preventing the Spread
There is not much that can be done on an individual level to prevent the spread of the fungus. Experts recommend avoiding patients with Candida auris infections. Also, they recommend practising proper hand hygiene when visiting at-risk populations. These places include hospital patients or nursing home residents. It is also essential to be cautious about the overuse of antibiotics. This is because they can kill off bacteria in the gut and give more room for yeasts like Candida auris to grow.
Candida auris is a potentially deadly fungus that is rapidly spreading throughout US healthcare facilities. It poses a severe risk to vulnerable groups of people. It is crucial to take measures to prevent the spread of the fungus, including avoiding infected patients and practising proper hand hygiene. Healthcare professionals also need to equip labs with the necessary tools to identify C. auris infections and implement public health infrastructure that can isolate and group infected patients.