CDC Warns of Deadly Drug-Resistant Fungal Infection Spreading Through America at "Alarming Rate"
· · Mar 23, 2023 ·

The CDC has issued a warning about Candida auris, an increasingly drug-resistant fungus posing a "serious global health threat." This rare fungal disease spreads easily and can cause severe illness and death in hospitalized patients and those with weakened immune systems.

In some cases, this yeast can enter a patient's bloodstream and cause serious invasive candidiasis infections, which can be deadly in a significant number of patients. Data from a limited number of patients shows that 30 to 60 percent of people diagnosed with the fungal disease have died. Healthy individuals, however, usually don't get sick from it.

The CDC is concerned about Candida auris for three main reasons: It's often multidrug-resistant, hard to identify using standard laboratory methods, and quickly causes outbreaks in healthcare settings. People hospitalized for extended periods, especially those with breathing tubes, feeding tubes, and central venous catheters, are at the highest risk of contracting the fungus.

CDC data reveals that clinical cases of Candida auris almost doubled in 2021 and continued to rise in 2022. The fungal disease is now present in over half of U.S. states and is spreading "at an alarming rate." Separate CDC data found that screening cases tripled from 2020 to 2021, from 1,310 to 4,041 cases.

The CDC is concerned about the tripling in 2021 of cases resistant to echinocandins, the antifungal drugs typically used as the first line of treatment for Candida auris. "The timing of this increase and findings from public health investigations suggest C. auris spread may have worsened due to strain on healthcare and public health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic," CDC officials added.

Candida auris was first identified in 2009 in Japan, but the earliest strain of the disease appeared in South Korea in 1996. The WHO has included Candida auris on its "fungal priority pathogens list" of life-threatening fungi.

At this point, the CDC says the risk to the general public is low. Let's hope it remains that way.


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