According to a column in The New York Times, we all should become knowledgeable about a growing health threat: drug-resistant germs.
Last May, the Times writes, an elderly man was admitted to the Brooklyn branch of Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery. A blood test revealed he was infected with a newly discovered germ as deadly as it was mysterious. Doctors swiftly isolated him in the intensive care unit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Candida auris (aka C. auris) is an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat. The CDC is concerned about C. auris for three main reasons:
- It is often multidrug-resistant, meaning it is resistant to multiple antifungal drugs commonly used to treat Candida infections.
- It is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and it can be misidentified in labs without specific technology. Misidentification may lead to inappropriate management.
- It has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings. For this reason, it is important to quickly identify C. auris in a hospitalized patient so healthcare facilities can take special precautions to stop its spread.
The germ preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the past five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela; swept through a hospital in Spain; forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit; and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.
The most common symptoms of C. auris are fever and chills that don't subside after being treated with antibiotics for a suspected bacterial infection.
As of March 29, the U.S. had recorded 617 cases in 12 states, according to the CDC. Another 1,056 patients were found to be carrying the fungus without signs of infection, the CDC said. Most of the recent cases have occurred in New York, New Jersey and Chicago, according to the CDC.