A potentially deadly and highly drug-resistant fungal infection has hit 35 people since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first warned clinicians last June to be on the lookout for the emerging pathogen. Another 18 people were found to be carrying the organism but were not sickened by it. Candida auris has been reported in about 12 countries on five continents since 2009, when it was first detected in a Japanese man. The fungal infection can cause serious bloodstream infections, transmits easily from person-to-person in healthcare settings, and can live for months on skin and for weeks on bed rails and other hospital equipment. Additionally, some strains are resistant to all three major classes of antifungal drugs, although so far all of the U.S. cases have been treatable with existing drugs. According to CDC, at least 28 cases have been reported in New York; however, infections have also been reported in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. "As soon as we put out that alert [last June], we started to get information about cases and now we know more about how it spreads and how it's acting," said Tom Chiller, CDC's top fungal expert, in a recent interview. Of the first seven cases reported to CDC last fall, four patients had bloodstream infections and died in the weeks to months after the pathogen was identified. Officials said they could not be certain whether the deaths were caused by the infection, however, as the patients all had other serious medical conditions.
Washington Post (03/10/17) Sun, Lena H.