A powerful superbug is spreading in hospitals all around the world and it's emerging as a serious global health threat.
New Superbug: What Is It?
Candida auris is a fungus that is getting health experts nervous not only because it's drug-resistant, but also because it is fast-acting. It can kill a person in as quick as 90 days.
What makes C. auris particularly alarming is its tenacity. While it doesn't spread person to person, CDC warns that this fungus lingers on the skin and surfaces for a prolonged period of time so that any setting can be infected for a long time.
When an elderly man was found to be infected in the Mount Sinai Hospital in Brooklyn, he died within 90 days. However, tests showed that the invasive fungus was everywhere inside the room, from the bed to the doors and walls to everything else inside, according to Gulf News.
Part of the reason for the fungus' tenacity is because it is impervious to drug treatments.
Although there are three different anti-fungal drug classes, most known strains are resistant to at least one drug, one-third are resistant to two drugs, and a number of strains resistant to three drugs. This means existing options for infected patients are incredibly limited.
What's Happening Now
Nearly half of the patients who are infected with the C. auris die in 90 days.
Individuals with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of the C. auris. These include infants, elderly people, smokers, diabetics, and autoimmune disease patients, among others.
As such, hospitals are vulnerable, especially with the fungus' ability to last on surfaces for a long time.
Healthy people with immune systems in top shape are believed to be in very low risk of getting an infection, according to Forbes. However, there's no telling what lies in the future as the fungus evolves and spreads.
It's especially worrying, since the fungus is spreading all over the world with recorded incidents in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, South Korea, India, South Africa, Kuwait, Colombia, Venezuela, and Pakistan.
As of March 29, there have been 587 confirmed clinical cases of C. auris infection in the United States, according to the CDC.
"It is a creature from the black lagoon," Dr. Tom Chiller, who is the head of the fungal branch at the CDC, describes to Gulf News. "It bubbled up and now it is everywhere."