The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a warning regarding the spread of the dangerous and rapidly spreading fungus, Candida auris. Also known as C. auris, this antibiotic-resistant fungus has been causing particular concern due to its high mortality rate of up to 60% in infected individuals. Infections occur through direct contact with contaminated objects, and they can also spread from person to person. However, it is possible to prevent the spread of C. auris by practicing strict handwashing, especially in healthcare environments.
The CDC recently released a report in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, revealing that case numbers of the fungus had more than tripled across America between 2020 and 2021, with antibiotic-resistant strains also becoming more common. The majority of transmission occurs in healthcare facilities, especially among residents of long-term care facilities or individuals with indwelling devices or mechanical ventilators.
C. auris infections have already caused 7,000 deaths in the US and 1.5 million worldwide in 2021, according to the CDC. In addition, the latest data shows that the increase in C. auris cases is not letting up, with 2,377 clinical cases and 5,754 screening cases last year.
Fungal infections are becoming a major threat to public health, with the World Health Organization warning that the increase in fungal infections may be due to the changing climate that makes environments more suitable for them.
Symptoms of C. auris include fever and chills, which do not improve, and the fungus can cause many different types of infections, such as in the bloodstream, wounds, or ears. The mortality rate varies between 30 to 60%, depending on the state. The fungus can be spread through direct contact and may also be passed on through contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment.
While many of the early cases of C. auris in the US were imported from abroad, the majority of cases in recent years have been due to local transmission. New York City and Chicago were the most affected areas, but cases of the fungus have now occurred in over half of American states, with most of the spread occurring in long-term care hospitals and nursing homes.
The researchers noted that the growth in C. auris cases reflects deficiencies in early identification of cases and the implementation of infection prevention and control measures. They added that the increased spread may have been exacerbated by pandemic-related strain on the healthcare and public health systems.
It is crucial to remain vigilant against the spread of this deadly fungus, especially in healthcare facilities. Strict handwashing practices can help prevent its spread.