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CDC Monitoring New Threat In US: Drug-Resistant Fungal Infection

21 March 2017, 8:04 am EDT By Samantha Dean Tech Times
A fungal infection dubbed 'Candida auris’ has raised concerns in the U.S. According to the CDC, around 53 people in the U.S. have fallen sick as a result of the infection after being admitted to hospitals due to unrelated ailments.  ( Raed Mansour | Flickr )

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on March 16, shared news about a hospital acquiring a fungal infection called Candida auris.

The disease was first spotted in Japan in 2009, and since then has been reported in many nations like Canada, India, Kenya, Colombia, Israel, Pakistan, Spain, Kuwait, South Africa, Norway, and more.

However, according to the reports shared by the CDC, Candida auris has caused 53 people in the U.S to fall ill.

The Outbreak

The first reported cases of the fungal outbreak were reported in the U.S. between May 2013 and August 2016. Since then, the rate of this infection has been rising rapidly, concerning the health authorities with the increased spike.

However, since the infection attacks the patients after they are hospitalized with other ailments, it has been difficult to ascertain whether Candida auris was the sole reason for some of the symptoms.

According to the reports from CDC, between March 2016 and January 2017, around four cases of Candida auris have been reported in Illinois. In New York, between May 2013 and Feb 2017, around 34 cases of the infection were reported.

The health officials are assuming that the death rate may be as high as 60 percent. However, it cannot be confirmed whether the victims died due to this infection or from the other ailments, for which they had been admitted to the hospitals in the first place.

What The Experts Have To Say

According to Dr. Paul Sax of Brigham and Women's Hospital Doctor, Candida auris is a fungal infection and not bacterial. Dr. Sax, who is an infection specialist, cited that the disease is a major threat for the hospitalized patients, and may even affect those with severe ailments like diabetes or organ failure.

Unlike all the other yeast infections, the Candida auris, doesn't usually cause any thrush, but can directly harm the blood streams, causing ear infections.

People who have a weak immune system or have diabetes, or those who are on dialysis, have a heightened risk of contracting the disease easily.

"It's pretty difficult to find new antibiotics. It's harder to find new antifungals," says David Denning at the University Hospital of South Manchester in the UK, where the disease has also made its presence felt.

Many of the drug manufacturers are working hard to develop antifungal compounds, which will help them fight against the disease. However, in the UK, Japan, as well as Sweden, some oral and intravenous treatments have been developed. These, however, are yet to be tested.

Both CDC, as well as local healthcare departments, have been working together to find out the possible causes for Candida auris.

Photo: Raed Mansour | Flickr 

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