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Candida Auris: Fast Facts on the Emerging Invasive, Multidrug-Resistant Fungus

Nov 07, 2016 04:00 AM EST

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating the potential rise of an invasive, multi-drug resistant fungus in the U.S.

The fungus, called Candida auris, can cause invasive infections and often associated with high mortality and frequent resistance to multiple anti-fungal drugs. Since its first discovery in Japan in 2009, infections caused by the fungus have been reported in several countries, including Colombia, India, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Pakistan, South Africa, South Korea, Venezuela and the U.K.

According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of the CDC, the agency has identified 13 cases of the fungal infection occurring in the U.S. These include seven cases that occurred between May 2013 and August 2016 in four states: Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. Out of the seven, four patients who have infections in their bloodstream, died. Additional six cases were reported after August 2016 and is still being investigated by the CDC.

"We need to act now to better understand, contain and stop the spread of this drug-resistant fungus," said Tom Frieden, CDC Director, in a report from National Public Radio. "This is an emerging threat, and we need to protect vulnerable patients and others."

CDC warned about the ability of the fungus to spread in health care settings such as hospitals and nursing homes. Furthermore, C. auris is difficult to detect. Patients suspected to have the fungal infections will need to undergo "matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight" analysis. If the analysis is not available, doctors can sequence the D1-D2 region the fungus' 28s ribosomal DNA.

Most of the strains studied by the CDC have multi-drug resistance. However, all the cases of the fungal infections that occurred in the U.S. seem to respond to at least one anti-fungal agent. When the C. auris entered the bloodstream, the infection would have a 50 percent fatality rate.

Due to the high mortality and potential outbreak of C. auris, the CDC has issued an alert, recommending health care facilities to strictly and religiously follow cleaning and disinfecting protocols to control and prevent the spread of all fungal infections.

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