A drug-resistant fungus, Candida auris, is rapidly spreading across the United States, putting lives at risk. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the alarming findings of federal researchers, who found that cases of the deadly fungus have skyrocketed in the last few years, infecting 2,377 people in 2022 compared to only 53 in 2016.
Candida auris is not only spreading rapidly throughout most US states but also across 40 countries. As a result, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) have deemed it a growing threat. In 2021, CDC data showed that the fungus infected 1,471 people.
Mortality Rate and High-Risk Groups
According to the CDC, Candida auris has a mortality rate of up to 60%, particularly posing a risk to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. The health body warns that this drug-resistant fungus is not to be taken lightly.
The fungus can be found on the skin and throughout the body, but it is not a threat to healthy people. Candida auris commonly spreads in hospitals and nursing homes through person-to-person contact, as well as contact with contaminated surfaces and equipment. The CDC reports that the fungus can live on surfaces for several weeks.
Multi-Drug Resistant Organisms and Outbreaks
Mississippi is currently struggling to contain an outbreak of the fungus, with 12 cases recorded since November last year. The spokesperson for Mississippi State Department of Health, Tammy Yates, said that multi-drug resistant organisms like Candida auris have become increasingly prevalent in long-term care facilities, putting high-risk individuals at a greater risk.
Spread and Treatment
The dissemination of Candida auris, a drug-resistant fungus, is rampant in healthcare settings such as hospitals and nursing homes, primarily through human-to-human contact and contact with contaminated equipment and surfaces. The fungus is capable of surviving on surfaces for weeks on end, facilitating its transmission from one individual to another.
Though Candida auris does not pose a risk to healthy individuals, it cannot be treated with conventional antifungal drugs, thus leading to an upsurge in infections. Unfortunately, there are no known therapies to combat this stubborn fungus.
In light of the escalating incidence of Candida auris infections and the mounting mortality rate, urgent attention is needed to curtail further outbreaks. It is crucial to raise awareness of infection control protocols in hospitals and long-term care facilities. By implementing necessary preventive measures, we can impede the spread of this lethal fungus and save countless lives.
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