Candida auris, a rare dangerous fungal infection is spreading in the United States, four cases have been recently reported in Washington State. The doctors are concerned that this infection is potentially dangerous due to its high fatality rate, drug resistance, and its ability to spread in healthcare facilities.
The first case was reported on 10 January, and the Public Health Agency for Seattle and King County unveiled three more instances of Candida auris infections last week.
The first confirmed case of Candida aureus on January 10, followed by two more cases on January 22 and another case on January 26. Out of four positive cases, three people were patients of Kindred Hospital Seattle First Hill, it is a long-term acute care hospital. Their infection with Candida aureus is identified through a routine screening program to identify infections before the symptoms develop. The fourth patient had earlier received care at Kindred but tested positive at a healthcare facility in Snohomish County.
The fungus generally infects people with weakened immune systems and it is resistant to several common antifungal drugs. Patients in hospitals who use feeding tubes, breathing tubes, or catheters are more likely to be infected with the fungus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Candida auris can cause infections in different parts of the body such as in the bloodstream, open wounds, and ears. The symptoms depend on the location and severity of Candida auris infection. The symptoms could resemble those of a bacterial infection. There is not a set of common symptoms specific to Candida auris infections.
People can get infected with Candida auris on their skin and other body sites without getting the illness or having an infection. This is termed as colonization. Someone who is colonized can still transmit Candida auris onto the surfaces or the objects that they contact with, which leads to transmission to other patients.
If a patient is colonized or infected with Candida auris infection, they should be in a separate room, and the room should be cleaned thoroughly with disinfectant products and the caregiver should wear gloves and gowns. People should use alcohol-based sanitizers or wash their hands before entering and leaving the Candida auris patient's room and before and after contact with the patient or their medical devices to prevent the spreading of the infection.
The infection of Candida auris was discovered 15 years ago in Japan, and the cases have been raised in recent years. In 2022, it infected 2,377 people, which grew in cases compared to 53 cases in 2016. The fungus infection spread to most of the US states and to 40 other countries, which exhorted the CDC and World Health Organization to mark it as a growing threat. According to CDC data, the fungus infected 1,471 people in 2021.
(Input from various sources)