A mysterious and dangerous fungal infection called Candida auris has emerged throughout the world. It is resistant to many antifungal medications, and is among a growing number of germs that have developed defenses against common medications. Here are some basic facts about it.
What is Candida auris?
Candida auris is a fungus that, when it enters the bloodstream, can cause dangerous infections that can be life-threatening. The scientists identified him for the first time in 2009 in a patient in Japan. In recent years, it has emerged throughout the world, mainly in hospitals and nursing homes. There have been 587 reported cases of C. auris in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of them in New York, New Jersey and Illinois.
Why is it so dangerous?
C. auris is often resistant to the main antifungal medications that are commonly used to treat these infections. The C.D.C. says that more than 90 percent of C. auris infections are resistant to at least one of these drugs, while 30 percent are resistant to two or more important drugs. Once the germ is present, it is difficult to eradicate it from an installation. Some hospitals have had to bring special cleaning equipment and even tear floor and ceiling tiles to get rid of them.
Who is at risk?
People with compromised or weakened immune systems are the most vulnerable. This includes the elderly, and also people who are already sick; In at least one case, the newborns were infected in a neonatal unit. It is likely that people with weakened immunity have more problems fighting an initial invasion by C. auris and that they are also found in settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes, where infection is more frequent.
Why have not people heard about this?
The rise of C. auris has been little publicized partly because it is very new. But also, sometimes, hospitals, doctors and even governments have reduced or maintained the confidentiality of outbreaks. Some hospitals and medical professionals argue that because precautions are taken to prevent the spread, publicizing an outbreak would scare people unnecessarily.
Can I do something to protect myself?
The symptoms of C. auris (fever, pain, fatigue) are not unusual, making it difficult to recognize the infection without testing. The good news is that the threat of getting sick with C. auris is very low for healthy people who perform their daily lives. If you or a loved one is in a hospital or nursing home, you can ask if there have been cases of Candida auris there. If so, it is reasonable to request that appropriate "infection control" precautions be taken. In the United States, this question would be more relevant in New York, New Jersey and Illinois, specifically in Chicago, where the germ has been concentrated.