Candida auris: The Superbug Sweeping the Globe

Health officials recently sent out a warning from a serious threat to global health in regards to a drug-resistant superbug fungus. The CDC claims that fungus, or Candida auris, has already infected hundreds of pre-sickened people in the United States.

First identified back in 2009 and then seen in the US back in 2013, Candida auris preys on those with weaker immune systems. Since its discovery, C. auris caused a minimum of 587 illnesses in the U.S. alone. New York state reported over 300 of those cases. Meanwhile, Illinois said 144 confirmed cases located mostly around Chicago. New Jersey had 104 cases.

Internal medicine specialist, Dr. Neeta Ogden said this outbreak is an alarming development in the emerging global threat from superbugs. Dr. Ogden says the superbug resists a variety of anti-fungal drugs not to mention it has endured all the methods currently used to destroy fungal and bacteria strains in the hospital.

According to CBS New York, an older man died from this fungus only last year at Mount Sinai Hospital after his abdominal surgery. The fungus isn’t quarantined within the United States, however. Reports of over 20 other countries across the world have given descriptions of the same superbug.

Infections caused by Candida auris?

There is a variety of infections caused by Candida auris such as those in the bloodstream, ears and open or new wounds.

Signs of the fungs have also shown up in urine and respiratory samples. However, the CDC claims it is unclear if the bug causes bladder or lung infections.

Those at risk of illness due to Candida auris

Health care settings across the globe have reported infections from the superbug. These places include hospitals and facilities for long-term care such as nursing homes. Those at the highest risk for C. auris are those with tubes or catheters, those who recently underwent surgery, or those living in nursing homes.

Patients of all ages have contracted the germ from preterm infants to the elderly.

How does it spread?

The strains live inside the microbiome of people according to Ogden. The elastic strain has taken up residence in various health care settings and spread from one host to another by contact with contaminated equipment or surfaces. Those with healthy immune systems could carry the germ without suffering any consequences themselves.

Currently, health officials are concerned about the future.

The most significant concern, for now, is what happens if we don’t find a way to curb the rise of superbugs. What could happen down the road? It’s possible that later, healthy people with no problems could become vulnerable to some types of fungal strains. Their bodies won’t have anything in their defense to fight off the antimicrobial and antifungal intruders.

How are infections from Candida auris diagnosed?

The CDC claims symptoms of Candida auris are difficult to detect since most patients are already sick from another source. As of now, only lab tests can ID the superbug.

Are these infections treatable?

Even though the majority of infections from the superbug are treatable with antifungal meds, some have proven to resist all three major classes of antifungal medicine.

Should a situation occur where a patient contracts the superbug, high doses of multiple antifungal medications could be necessary to treat the infection according to the CDC.

Professor of fungal epidemiology, Matthew Fisher says this is a significant issue since people depend on treating patients with antifungals. Fisher is the co-author of a newer scientific review on the rise of drug-resistant fungi.

According to a rough estimate, anywhere from 30 to 60% of those infected with C. auris have died. However, many of those had other health problems at the time, so the cause of death is uncertain.