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The scariest superbug on the CDC’s radar has hit 7 states

 

The most worrying ‘superbug’ on the CDC’s radar is sweeping the United States at alarming speed, officials warn.

Candida auris, a harmful form of yeast resistant to most drugs with a 60 percent mortality rate, is emerging as a new menace.

It started in New York and New Jersey, but has now been spotted in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Oklahoma.

The spread has triggered the CDC to update its guidelines – urging medics to quarantine C auris sufferers.  

Health officials sounded alarms last year because two of the three kinds of commonly used antifungal drugs had little effect in treatment.

Candida auris, a harmful form of yeast, is the latest superbug on the CDC's radar after dozens of cases broke out in hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Oklahoma

Candida auris, a harmful form of yeast, is the latest superbug on the CDC's radar after dozens of cases broke out in hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Oklahoma

Candida auris, a harmful form of yeast, is the latest superbug on the CDC’s radar after dozens of cases broke out in hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Oklahoma

First identified in Japan in 2009, the fungus has spread to more than twelve countries around the globe.  

At the end of April, data showed there had been 66 cases since 2013.

By May 12, that figure rocketed up to 77, with another 45 people being monitored for ‘close contact’ with affected patients.

In a report published this week, the CDC analyzed the first 35 clinical isolates.

Their findings showed that 86 percent were resistant to fluconazole, 43 percent were resistant to amphotericin B, and 3 percent were resistant to echinocandins – the standard treatment for a bacterial infection like this.

Most cases, they said, were spread in hospitals or between family members.

‘In Illinois, three cases were associated with the same long-term care facility,’ the researchers wrote in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

‘In New York and New Jersey, cases were identified in multiple acute care hospitals, but further investigation found most had overlapping stays at interconnected long-term care facilities and acute care hospitals within a limited geographic area. 

‘The case in Massachusetts was linked to the Illinois cases.’

Screening of 390 close contacts showed that 12 percent were colonized by C auris. 

Testing of patients’ rooms also recovered C auris from ‘mattresses, beds, windowsills, chairs, infusion pumps, and countertops…. C auris was not isolated from rooms after thorough cleaning with a sodium hypochlorite–based disinfectant.’

What also makes the fungus so dangerous is that its difficult to recognize and is often misidentified as other related yeasts – many might not determine that they actually have a serious infection on hand.

‘It’s acting like a superbug’ bacteria, said Dr Paige Armstrong of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WHAT IS C AURIS? 

Candida auris (C auris) is a harmful form of yeast, identified by the CDC as a ‘superbug’ fungus.

It tends to be diagnosed in patients after they’ve been in hospitals for several weeks. 

The fungus can infect wounds, ears and the bloodstream and take root in the urinary tract. 

The source of the infection for C auris isn’t the person who got sick but rather the hospital environment, including catheters, counters, and other surfaces.

It was first identified in Japan in 2009 and has since spread to more than a dozen countries worldwide.

Two of the three kinds of commonly used antifungal drugs have had little effect in treatment.

About 60 percent of those who’ve been infected with C auris have died.

The fungus has been found on surfaces in hospital rooms and on the skin of nurses and patients – even after patients were treated with antifungal medications.

The most vulnerable to the superbug are fragile hospital patients, particularly newborns and the elderly.

It tends to be diagnosed in patients after they’ve been in hospitals for several weeks. The fungus can infect wounds, ears and the bloodstream and take root in the urinary tract.

US clinicians have been warned to watch for the fungus in hospitals. Patients who have undergone recent surgery, used central venous catheters, or been hospitalized for lengthy periods, as well as those with diabetes, are particularly at risk. 

About 60 percent of those who’ve been infected with C auris have died, the CDC said.

The agency warned US hospitals in June 2016, and again in November, to begin watching for the pathogen because of how differently it behaves from other fungal infections.

Aside from one case in Rochester, all were in New York City, at 15 hospitals and a doctor’s office. No site has had more than six cases.

Seventeen New York patients have died, but state officials say everyone infected had other illnesses and the fungus was not necessarily the cause of death.

New Jersey has had 15 cases, and there have been four in Illinois as well as one case each in Indiana, Maryland and Massachusetts, according to the CDC.

 

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