Deadly fungal infection doctors feared now in US

A strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at CDC

A strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at CDC

The fungus is known to be a strain of Candida auris.

Health authorities report a surge in deadly fungal infections in the US and across the world.

Tom Chiller, the top fungal expert of CDC, stated that when they released that warning, they started receiving reports about more and more cases and, thus, they found out more about how the virus behaves and how it spreads. Candida auris was first discovered in Japan almost eight years ago and has since spread to Colombia, India, Kenya, Israel, Kuwait, Pakistan, Venezuela, South Korea, and Great Britain.

Most of the cases have been reported in NY, but others have been seen in New Jersey, Maryland and IL.

One concerning thing about Candida auris is some strains have been resistant to the three main types of anti-fungal drugs.

Statistics indicate that approximately 60% of those who were diagnosed with these infections have died. Other patients who might by threatened with this sort of infections are those who have a central line catheter inserted into a large vein or those who are on ventilators. Many of them also had other serious underlying illnesses.

A potentially deadly and drug-resistant fungal infection that causes bloodstream infections and is highly contagious has been reported in almost three dozen cases in the U.S. In June 2016, the CDC delivered a warning to all physicians asking them to look for these infections which, apparently, are hard to be determined by standard laboratory methods. Even with the slight surge in cases over the past few months, Candida auris infections are still considered very rare by the CDC. Because the country doesn't yet have any "homegrown" strains of the deadly fungus, "it gives us a better opportunity to contain it and stop it from spreading", Chiller said. Unlike Candida infections in the mouth, throat or vagina (which are typically called yeast infections), invasive yeast infections can affect the blood, heart, brain, eyes, bones and other parts of the body and are more risky.

Within the USA, there is no evidence that Candida auris is developing any new strains, making it somewhat easier to get the deadly fungus infection under control.

"This is a paradigm shift, because Candida is not generally thought of as highly resistant or passed person to person", he said.

While Candida infections are not unusual among hospital patients in the USA, many health experts are anxious the deadly strain will soon become more common.

Since the CDC issued its alert in June, the agency has provided funds and additional expertise to help regional laboratories and hospitals identify the organism.

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