Silent killer fungal infection spreading ‘rapidly’ through US

A deadly fungal infection called Candida auris, with a death rate of 60 percent, is spreading rapidly across the US. It comes as Washington confirmed its first cases last month.

Doctors have warned that this rare fungal infection is resistant to drugs, has a high fatality rate and spreads easily in medical facilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that more than one in three patients infected with an invasive form of the fungus could die.

Seattle and King County reported their first case on January 10, 2024, and announced a further three confirmed infections last week.

Kindred Hospital Seattle First Hill confirmed at the time the patients were asymptomatic and being “appropriately isolated from the rest of the patient population with extra clinical and cleaning precautions to prevent spread.”

This deadly fungus, which typically impacts those with weakened immune systems, is resistant to several common anti-fungal drugs.

First appearing just 15 years ago, the rates of Candida auris have soared in that time. In 2021, there were 2,377 confirmed clinical cases in the US, a staggering increase of over 1,200 per cent since 2017. The CDC has warned that Candida auris can cause infections across the body, including the bloodstream, open wounds and ears.

In cases of Candida auris, symptoms may look like a common bacterial infection. However, an infected person can unknowingly spread the fungus. The CDC said: “Someone who is colonized can still transmit C. auris onto surfaces or objects that they contact, which can then be picked up by other patients.”

Being infected by a highly lethal fungal infection, such as Candida auris, requires isolation in a room, as those at risk should be kept away. The CDC made it clear that “C. auris can be misidentified as other types of fungi unless specialized laboratory technology is used”. It added: “This misidentification might lead to a patient getting the wrong treatment.”

Though it carries a high death rate among severe infections, the fungus isn’t thought to pose a great threat to healthy adults. Still, Dr Luis Ostrosky, a professor of infectious diseases at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, alerted everyone about Candida auris potentially producing a “nightmare scenario” if unchecked.

Dr Ostrosky added: “It’s a potentially multi-drug resistant pathogen with the ability to spread very efficiently in healthcare settings. We’ve never had a pathogen like this in the fungal infection area.”

This article was crafted with the help of AI tools, which speed up the Daily Express editorial research. A Daily Express editor reviewed this content before it was published. You can report any errors here

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