Eight patients in UK hospitals have died after they were infected with Candida auris, a deadly Japanese fungus resistant to drugs.
C. Auris Found In 25 Hospitals
The Public Health England made the revelation as the yeast has been found lurking in 25 hospitals in Britain.
C. auris infection was not recorded as the cause of death of any of these patients since they were already seriously ill when they were infected.
The infection, however, likely weakened them further and made it harder to treat their original conditions.
Hospital Patients Particularly At Risk Of C. Auris Infection
C. auris first occurred in Japan in 2009 and has since spread to other countries, including India, South Africa, South Korea, Venezuela, Pakistan, Kuwait, Colombia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The infection often occurs after a patient has been in the healthcare facility for several weeks. What makes the fungus somewhat unique is it can easily spread from person to person. It also has the ability to last on surfaces for a long time, posing particular risk to patients in hospitals.
"It's hard to eradicate from hospitals," commented David Perlin, the chief scientific officer of the new Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation in New Jersey. Fungal pathogens often die when they leave the body, but the C. auris persists for days.
The yeast cells can deposit in the organs, which include the liver, brain, and spleen. It can also cause abscesses and, once in the bloodstream, circulates, multiplies, and causes blood poisoning. Nearly half of those infected die within 90 days.
Those who are most vulnerable to C. auris are infants, smokers, elderly people, diabetics, and those with weakened immune system. People with strong immune system have low chances of getting the life-threatening superfungus.
In the United States, health authorities have so far identified at least 587 cases of the infection over the last few years.
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the infection, which is primarily centered in the New York City area, the Chicago area, and New Jersey, has become an emerging global threat.