Deadly fungal infection spreading in U.S., CDC warns

According to CDC, the number of Candida Auris cases has increased
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 6:45 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A fungal infection causing severe illness, or even death, in people with weakened immune systems, is spreading.

According to the CDC, cases have been on the rise across the country. Candida Auris is a form of yeast and was first reported in the U.S. back in 2016.

Infection prevention experts have noted that the fungus mainly impacts patients who already have medical issues, such as diabetes, cancer, or medical tubes in their bodies. The deadly fungal infection is more likely to have an impact on older patients. Healthcare agencies in Lansing said they are using practices from the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep elders safe.

“Well, we haven’t stopped masking. In our settings, we still are walking in with masks, and a lot of our patients still have masks on,” said Vicky Welty, the CEO of Michigan Community VNA.

To limit the spread of Candida Auris, Welty said they have strict infection control guidelines for caregivers.

“Policies, procedures, all of our caregivers out there in the community. Whether it’s a nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, home health aid. They have all been versed,” Welty said.

Welty said having the opportunity to take care of patients in their homes is one of the most important ways to keep patients safe.

“We’re taking care of them in their homes, in the place that they live where they feel the most comfortable, where they already know they’re safe from a virus outside,” Welty said.

McLaren’s Health Medical Director of Infection Prevention, John Brooks, said the fungus emerged in recent years. He said Candida Auris mainly impacts “those that have an invasive catheter. So somebody getting dialysis and they have a catheter in their body to be able to do dialysis procedures. Those that are profoundly ill, those that have had a stem cell transplant, those that have had chemotherapy.”

According to CDC, the number of Candida Auris cases has increased, Brooks said it’s becoming more difficult to treat.

“The reason that we don’t like this particular yeast is that it’s very resistant to our normal antifungal medications.,” said Brooks.

Most cases in the U.S. come from local spread within hospitals and nursing homes. Healthcare facilities should keep an eye out for new introductions of the fungus.

Medical experts said signs and symptoms include those similar to an infection caused by bacteria or a virus. It can cause sepsis or invasive infections in the bloodstream.

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