The most disturbing ‘super-bacterium’ on the CDC’s radar has infected more than 600 Americans in recent years – and officials say the spread is starting worldwide.
But hospitals are not required to inform patients if they have the infection, which is usually contracted in hospitals, according to an alarming new function of the New York Times.
Candida auris, a harmful form of yeast, is resistant to most drugs, with a death rate of 60 percent.
In the US, 300 New Yorkers have been infected since 2013, 144 in Illinois and 104 in New Jersey, with hundreds more in the UK, South Africa, India, Colombia, Venezuela and more.
The spread, in the face of increasing drug resistance, has prompted the CDC to update its guidelines – and urged doctors to quarantine patients with C auris.
However, according to the New York Times, CDC rules allow states and hospitals to keep their number of infections secret.
The move is intended to protect centers and states against panic and media attention, but experts warn that the general public will be left in the dark about a serious threat.
Candida auris, a harmful form of yeast, is “virtually unbeatable and hard to identify,” according to the state epidemiologist of Connecticut
First identified in Japan in 2009, the fungus has spread to more than 12 countries around the world.
There were 66 cases in the US between 2013 and April 2017.
Now there have been 587, with 30 more likely cases.
“It’s almost unbeatable and hard to identify,” Dr. said. Lynn Sosa, Deputy State Epidemiologist of Connecticut, at the New York Times.
CDC analyzes show that most cases (around 86 percent) are resistant to the usual anti-fungal treatment with fluconazole, about half (43 percent) were resistant to amphotericin B used for aggressive fungal infections, and 3 percent were resistant to echinocandins – the standard treatment for a bacterial infection such as this.
According to a 2017 report, most cases were spread in hospitals or between family members.
“In Illinois, three cases were associated with the same long-term care institution,” 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 research revealed that most had overlapping stays at interconnected long-term care institutions and acute care hospitals within a limited geographical area.
“The Massachusetts case was linked to the Illinois case.”
Research of 390 close contacts showed that 12 percent was colonized by C auris.
WHAT IS C AURIS?
Candida auris (C auris) is a harmful form of yeast, identified by the CDC as a ‘superug’ fungus.
It is often diagnosed in patients after they have 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 C auris infection is not the person who became ill, 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 types of commonly used antifungal agents have had little effect on treatment.
About 60 percent of those infected with C auris have died.
Testing of patient rooms also restored C auris from ‘mattresses, beds, window sills, chairs, infusion pumps and worktops … C auris was not isolated from rooms after thorough cleaning with a disinfectant based on sodium hypochlorite.’
What also makes the fungus so dangerous is that it is difficult to recognize and is often misidentified as other related yeasts – many may not determine that they actually have a serious infection at hand.
“It acts like a super bacterium,” said Dr. Paige Armstrong of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The fungus is found on surfaces in hospital rooms and on the skin of nurses and patients – even after patients have been treated with antifungal drugs.
The most vulnerable to the superug are fragile hospital patients, particularly newborns and the elderly.
It is often diagnosed in patients after they have been in hospitals for several weeks. The fungus can infect wounds, ears and the bloodstream and take root in the urinary tract.
American clinicians have been warned to watch out for the fungus in hospitals. Patients who have recently undergone surgery, have used central venous catheters or have been hospitalized for a long time, as well as those with diabetes, are at particular risk.
About 60 percent of those infected with C auris have died, the CDC said.