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Deadly ‘Candida Auris’ Fungal Infection Spreading Rapidly Across US with 60% Death Rate

A deadly fungal infection is spreading quickly across the US, with a death rate as high as 60%. This rare fungus, known as ‘Candida auris’, is resistant to drugs, spreads easily in medical facilities, and has a high fatality rate, doctors warn.

Washington State confirmed its first cases last month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that more than one in three patients infected with an invasive form of the fungus die. After reporting its first case on January 10, 2024, Seattle and King County announced three more infections last week.

Kindred Hospital Seattle First Hill confirmed that the patients were asymptomatic and being “appropriately isolated from the rest of the patient population with extra clinical and cleaning precautions to prevent spread.” The deadly fungus typically affects those with weakened immune systems and is resistant to several common anti-fungal drugs.

First appearing just 15 years ago, the rates of Candida auris have soared since then. In 2021, there were 2,377 confirmed clinical cases in the US, a staggering increase of over 1,200 percent since 2017. The CDC warns that Candida auris can cause infections across the body, including the bloodstream, open wounds and ears.

Candida auris is not your typical bacterial infection. This dangerous fungus can be spread by people who aren’t even sick themselves. The CDC warns: “Someone who is colonized can still transmit C. auris onto surfaces or objects that they contact, which can then spread it to other patients.” Those infected should stay away from vulnerable individuals and remain in separate rooms.

Dr Luis Ostrosky, a professor of infectious diseases at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, highlights the danger of this fungus.

He said: “It’s a potentially multi-drug resistant pathogen with the ability to spread very efficiently in healthcare settings,” and warns that ignoring its spread could lead to a “nightmare scenario.” Fungi like this are new territory for researchers.

The CDC further explained: “C. auris can be misidentified as other types of fungi unless specialized laboratory technology is used. This misidentification might lead to a patient getting the wrong treatment.” While it’s dangerous for those with severe infections, healthy adults are generally safe.

Scientists are puzzled about how this fungus suddenly appeared. Some suggest climate change might have increased its power and drug resistance.

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