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World News March 23, 2023

Deadly and drug-resistant fungus spreading rapidly in U.S., says CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new study warning of the rapid spread of a deadly and drug-resistant fungus known as Candida auris, or C. auris, across the United States. C. auris is a yeast-type fungus that can cause severe infections, particularly in hospitalized individuals or those with weakened immune systems. The CDC reports a mortality rate of up to 60% for those infected with the fungus.

According to the study, the number of people diagnosed with C. auris infections, as well as those found to be carrying the fungus through screening, has been increasing at an alarming rate since it was first reported in the U.S. a few years ago. The fungus is often resistant to multiple anti-fungal drugs, making treatment difficult. It can also survive on surfaces in healthcare facilities for extended periods and is easily transmitted from person to person through contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment.
The first case of C. auris in the U.S. was reported in 2016, and since then, the fungus has been found in healthcare facilities across several states, including New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, and Florida. Cases of the deadly fungus have tripled from 2019 to 2021, according to data from the CDC. Annual clinical case counts rose from 476 in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021, a 95% increase.

The CDC has rated the fungus’ spread as an “urgent threat” due to its resistance to treatment and ease of transmission. The agency attributes the rapid spread of C. auris to several factors, including poor infection prevention and control practices in healthcare facilities and the strain on hospitals and clinics caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To prevent the spread of the fungus in healthcare facilities, the CDC recommends strict infection control practices, including hand hygiene, environmental cleaning and disinfection, and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment. Healthcare providers are encouraged to identify and isolate patients with C. auris infections and report cases to public health authorities. The CDC stresses the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control practices to address the alarming spread of C. auris in the U.S.

Sources: CGTN
Photo Credit: NBC News

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