Drug Resistant Fungus Spreads in Texas & D.C.
A new outbreak of a fungus that attacks people with weakened immune systems has spread in two states within the United States. The fungus, Candida auris, is a recently discovered drug resistant “superbug” that has been found in hospitals and care facilities in Dallas, Texas and Washington D.C. so far.
Candida auris colonizes itself on the skin of humans from surfaces, direct contact or recently revealed with human to human transmission, further leading to potential invasive bloodstream infections. The CDC released a report last week on updates of the cases in both states, saying that the overall combined mortality rate was around 30%.
The clusters of infection within both states are said to be unrelated to one another so far, with the outbreaks happening at a long term care facility in D.C. and a hospital in Dallas. From January to April of this year, 101 cases of the fungus were found in D.C. During the same period of time, 22 cases have been found in Dallas. The CDC did not release information on the specific facilities that experienced the outbreaks. Of the 101 cases in D.C. 3 were found to be resistant to all forms of anti fungal medication, in which there are generally 3 major classes of medication for treatment. These cases were isolated for further study. In Dallas, the same was found in several cases, with 2 cases being resistant to all 3 medication classes and another 5 cases being resistant to 2 of the medication classes. This resistance itself has never been seen before from fungal infection within the United States.
Author of the CDC report Dr. Meghan Lyman says, “This is really the first time we’ve started seeing clusters of resistance.” They also have never seen before patients getting the infection from other patients in close contact.
Candida auris was first seen in humans 2013, with a report warning of its hazardous potential being released back in 2019. Hundreds of cases have been reported since this time, but this year is the first time we have seen such an outbreak actually occur here in the United States where there is a resistance to all medication as well as human to human transmission.
Back in 2013, when the fungus was discovered in the U.S. for the first time, Dr. Lynn Sosa, Connecticut’s deputy state epidemiologist at the time, said that she thinks Candida auris is “pretty much unbeatable and difficult to identify.”
A study released in November of 2020 said that there was a 39% mortality rate with infections across 33 different countries at the time with 4,733 individual cases.
The earliest report of a case came from Japan in 2009, while the first isolate can be traced back to 1996 in South Korea.
Although it seems to mostly be harmful to those with pre existing conditions and prior health issues, and those already on medical equipment or in long term care, a great deal is still unknown about the fungus and its capabilities.
The CDC states three questions that it is currently seeking the answers to.
1- Why is C. auris resistant to antifungal medicines?
2- Why did C. auris start causing infections in recent years?
3- Where did C. auris originally come from, and why has it appeared in many regions of the world at the same time?
As of February of 2021, the CDC website shows that it has spread and has been found in over 30 countries spanning nearly every populated continent. The CDC website reads, “This map is no longer being updated given how widespread C. auris has become.” Updates are said to be delayed by the Covid 19 pandemic as well.
With all of this, is this new warning from the CDC something to be worried about? I personally am not and do not believe that anyone should live in fear of anything. With this being said, awareness, information and education are things always worth knowing when anything is occurring on the world stage, so sharing this information is for that purpose rather than continued fear mongering.
There is a fungus outbreak in the United States and we are still learning about what it is and what it is capable of doing. It seems as if the fungus itself is evolving, changing in resistant ability and transmission. Be aware that this is happening right now, and continue to live your life forward.