Killer Fungus Candida Auris May Have Killed Four US Patients, Says CDC

Killer Fungus Candida Auris May Have Killed Four US Patients, Says CDC

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the so-called “killer fungus” Candida auris may have killed four U.S. hospital patients.

According to UPI, Candida auris is an infectious form of fungus that cannot be treated with most forms of medication. Classical symptoms in those infected include white patches on the tongue and other body parts, and in some cases, infection could turn out to be fatal. The fungus itself is known to cause candidiasis in human patients, a condition whose symptoms include genital itching, burning sensations, difficulty swallowing, and discharge with cheese-like consistency.

Candida auris is a drug-resistant fungal infection that may spread in U.S. healthcare facilities.

— CDC (@CDCgov) November 4, 2016

The CDC report released Friday shows that seven cases were detected between May 2013 and August 2016, and another six are presently under investigation, having been spotted after the timespan of the report. USA TODAY reports that the first seven cases were spotted in Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, with all the 13 patients having previously had “serious underlying medical conditions” such as cancer. The “killer fungus” has reportedly killed four of those patients, though the CDC is still not sure whether it was a result of Candida auris or underlying causes.

In a press release, CDC director Tom Frieden warned about the dangers paused by Candida auris, in the light of his agency’s new report and the findings within.

“We need to act now to better understand, contain and stop the spread of this drug-resistant fungus. This is an emerging threat, and we need to protect vulnerable patients and others.”

#CandidaAuris – First #Candida Auris Cases Reported in United States – #DisabledWorld ::

— Disabled World (@DisabledWorld) November 5, 2016

UPI added in its report that the CDC’s research is the first of its kind to detail Candida auris infections in the U.S., and that it came after a clinical alert the government agency issued in June. Currently, the CDC is working closely with state and local officials in hopes of finding out more information on the potential killer fungus.

The CDC isn’t sure yet how the “killer fungus” arrived in the U.S., but reported that the strains found were similar to those spotted in South Asia and South America. What’s interesting, though, is that none of the 13 patients had traveled to those parts of the world, and were most likely infected while in the United States.

“It appears that C. auris arrived in the United States only in the past few years,” said Tom Chiller, CDC chief of Mycotic Diseases. “We’re working hard with partners to better understand this fungus and how it spreads so we can improve infection control recommendations and help protect people.”

In its report, the CDC explained that spotting Candida auris is not easy; due to its similarity to other bugs, it can only be detected through more sophisticated techniques in the laboratory. In fact, a lot of the samples documented in the report were originally misidentified as another type of fungus. Worse, 71 percent of the samples were resistant to currently available antibiotics. Samples found in other countries were similarly resistant to anti-fungal drugs, the CDC added.

Amesh Adalja, a senior associate at the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told USA TODAY about the high mortality rates recorded in earlier outbreaks of the purported killer fungus. Candida auris killed 59 percent of sufferers, including 68 percent of those whose infections had reached the bloodstream. It’s also due to these earlier outbreaks that Asian and U.K. hospitals have been more diligent in testing for the bug.

Candida auris is a major threat that carries a high mortality,” Adalja explained. “Candida fungal species are ubiquitous… As we learn more about this species it will be essential to understand how it spreads in health care facilities and what the best infection control and treatment strategies are.”

[Featured Image by Yale Rosen/Wikimedia Commons/Cropped and Resized/CC BY-SA 2.0]

Killer Fungus Candida Auris May Have Killed Four US Patients, Says CDC is an article from: The Inquisitr News

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