Super fungus infections rise to highest levels ever in parts of US amid fears about deadly strain that’s becoming resistant to drugs

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Health officials in Nevada are sounding the alarm over a massive spike in cases of a ‘super fungus’ that is also spreading nationally. 

There were nearly 200 people in southern Nevada in October alone who tested positive for Candida auris, known as C auris, a microscopic yeast strain that can cause infections in the bloodstream, brain, heart or other organs. That is more than double the number in 2021. 

Nevada health officials are calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for more resources to deal with the growing issue – including training staff how to spot the infection.

Meanwhile, there are growing concerns, nationally, about the rise of C auris, where cases have more than tripled in recent years.

Nevada had the highest number of cases in the US in the past year with 384. Next is California with 359 cases and Florida with 349

Nevada had the highest number of cases in the US in the past year with 384. Next is California with 359 cases and Florida with 349

Sharon McCreary (left) with her mom Lorrie McCreary (right) at an MLB baseball game in 2017. Lorrie died after contracting Candida auris from a hospital last year

Sharon McCreary (left) with her mom Lorrie McCreary (right) at an MLB baseball game in 2017. Lorrie died after contracting Candida auris from a hospital last year

Candida auris, known as C auris, is a microscopic yeast strain that has become rampant in healthcare settings in recent years, where it kills up to a third of people it infects. 

C auris emerged over a decade ago in hospitals in India, South Africa and South America simultaneously. Researchers do not know why but speculate that climate change could have played a part.

Fungi usually cannot tolerate the warmer temperature of the human body, but scientists think C auris might have adapted to survive in a warming environment.

Another theory suggested in 2019 was that C auris might have existed as a plant fungus that adapted due to global warming to existed in salty water as well as hotter temperatures. 

The type of plant would have been a saprophyte — a plant that does not have chlorophyll which instead gets its food from dead organic matter.

Researchers from the University of Texas speculated it could have then been transmitted by birds from saltmarshes across the world to rural parts where birds and humans are often in contact.

Most transmission occurs in healthcare facilities, especially among residents of long-term care facilities or among persons with indwelling devices — such as catheters, tracheostomies, or wound drains — or on mechanical ventilators.  WHY??

The fungus can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, resulting in potentially fatal invasive C auris infections, such as in internal organs. HOW DOES IT INFECT? 

The fungus kills more than one in three people with invasive C auris. 

Healthy people do not usually get sick, but among the frail and vulnerable, it CAN BE A DEATH SENTENCE.

In October last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that fungal infections are becoming a ‘major threat’ to public health.

Dr Hanan Balkhy, the WHO’s assistant director-general, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), said: ‘Emerging from the shadows of the bacterial antimicrobial resistance pandemic, fungal infections are growing, and are ever more resistant to treatments, becoming a public health concern worldwide.’ 

Fears of widespread infections have been made worse because C auris is becoming resistant to drugs, and there is currently no vaccine to prevent the infection.

In October, there were 57 new clinical cases of the lethal fungus in Southern Nevada that can infect a person’s bloodstream, brain, heart or other organs.

Some 123 cases of colonization were also reported in the same month, where people have the fungus in the folds of their skin, which cannot be seen by the human eye. They do not fall sick but can still spread the pathogen.

Since the first local cases were reported in August 2021, there have been almost 2,300 total cases in Southern Nevada.

Last year, Southern Nevada suffered the worst outbreak of C auris in the US, with HOW MANY AS A % OPF THE NATIONS CASES COMING FROM THIS ONE SMALL REGION

In March, the American College of Physicians (ACAP) said the rise and spread of C auris was ‘concerning’. Case numbers more than tripled across America between 2020 and 2021, from 1,310 in 2020 to 4,041 in 2021. Multidrug-resistant strains also became more common.

THER ARE SIGNS IT’S STIL RISING

Sharon McCreary, 61, previously told DailyMail.com that her mother Lorraine, 86, suffered a fatal stroke last summer after catching the microscopic yeast strain Candida auris.

She, like a growing number of Americans each year, is believed to have caught the infection in a hospital — where the fungus is becoming more prevalent.

Lorrie, as she was known to friends and family, was originally admitted with pneumonia in June, not uncommon for the later stage of life she was in. 

But just as she began to recover, her condition rapidly deteriorated and doctors ran a barrage of tests to find the cause.

She was diagnosed with C auris, which kills up to half of the people it infects. Doctors think she may have contracted the fungus from oxygen tubes.

It spreads from patient to patient through direct contact or through contaminated surfaces where it can lurk for weeks.

The infection began a fatal chain of events for Lorrie, with the C auris deteriorating into sepsis and kidney failure – eventually leading to a deadly stroke.

Ms McCreary told DailyMail.com her mom Lorrie would not have died in June 2022 if she had not contracted C auris. 

Lorrie had high blood pressure and arthritis but was relatively healthy for her age. 

She fell over at her home twice in one day and had to be rescued by the firemen. 

The next day, Lorrie fell again. Her nurse took her to Baycare St Anthony’s Hospital in St Petersburg, Florida, on June 10, 2022.

In the hospital, Lorrie was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia and had a fever and was dizzy and weak — causing her to keep falling.

At first, Lorrie seemed to be doing well. After a week, the doctors called Ms McCreary and said her mother was improving and they were going to move her to the rehabilitation unit.

But two and a half days later, Ms McCreary got another call saying the doctors had moved her back to the hospital. 

The nurse told Ms McCreary her mother had tested positive for C auris, which they had found while doing routine bloodwork.

Ms McCreary said: ‘I had never heard of C auris. I immediately went online to look it up and the Centers for Disease Control have a whole webpage about it. 

‘I read it and I looked at my husband and I said, “This kills 50 percent of the people who get it.” I just had this dread, and it was rightfully placed dread.’

‘My mom just couldn’t get well. It was like a domino effect for her. The Candida auris was preventing her from getting over the other things she had going on.’

Lorrie also developed sepsis from the C auris.  If the C auris yeast gets into the bloodstream, it can cause an infection. The body can react to this with sepsis — which can be life-threatening.

Sepsis occurs when chemicals released in the bloodstream to fight an infection set off inflammation throughout the body. This can lead to multiple organ systems being damaged and shutting down.

Symptoms of sepsis include struggling to breathe, low blood pressure, increased heart rate and mental confusion.

 

HOW IS C AURIS TREATED? 

C auris could have jumped into humans during activities such as farming, and then eventually into hospitals and healthcare systems as humans migrated to cities. 

A research team in India pointed to C auris originating from a tropical wetland and gained antifungal resistance after coming into contact with humans.

The first case was reported in 2009 after it was found in the ear discharge of a 70-year-old female inpatient at Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital in Japan.

There are roughly 1,500 types of yeast, which are single-celled fungi. They are found globally in soil and on plants. Hundreds of varieties are used to make things like bread, beer and wine.

Some yeasts are dangerous pathogens to humans and other animals, particularly Candida albicans, which C auris is a type of. 

Transmission has been largely driven by a lack of infection prevention and control practices in hospitals. 



Post source: Daily mail

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