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CDC Warns of New Deadly Drug-resistant Fungus


America’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a warning about a potentially fatal fungus that is spreading and which is resistant to antimicrobial treatments used to fight such microbes. Candida auris, a fungus that can cause serious infections of the bloodstream has reportedly been spreading in hospitals across the U.S.

This sounds like something out of a science fiction/horror show like “The Last of Us” where some sort of super-fungus spreads and turns people into zombies. But in this case, it is more about a more realistic fear being realized: the spread of drug resistant bacteria, fungi and other kinds of microbes that cannot be stopped.

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Candida auris (C. auris), explains the CDC, is an emerging fungus considered an urgent antimicrobial resistance (AR) threat that spread at an “alarming” rate in U.S. healthcare facilities in 2020-2021. The CDC said that equally concerning was a tripling in 2021 of the number of cases that were resistant to echinocandins, the antifungal medicine most recommended for treatment of C. auris infections.

However, the CDC added that, in general, C. auris is not a threat to healthy people. People who are very sick, have invasive medical devices, or have long or frequent stays in healthcare facilities are at increased risk for acquiring C. auris. The CDC has deemed C. auris as an urgent AR threat, because it is often resistant to multiple antifungal drugs, spreads easily in healthcare facilities, and can cause severe infections with high death rates.

“The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control,” said CDC epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Lyman.

But don’t count out the possibility that things could get worse. Just look at the data.

The CDC said auris has spread in the United States since it was first reported in 2016, with a total of 3,270 clinical cases (in which infection is present) and 7,413 screening cases (in which the fungus is detected but not causing infection) reported through December 31, 2021. Clinical cases have increased each year since 2016, with the most rapid rise occurring during 2020-2021. CDC has continued to see an increase in case counts for 2022. During 2019-2021, 17 states identified their first C. auris case ever. Nationwide, clinical cases rose from 476 in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021.

At this rate, maybe people should be worried.



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