The fungus, called Candida auris, preys on the sickest patients and can spread in hospitals. Although doctors have been concerned about the spread of antibiotic-resistant bugs for many years, this fungus is relatively new on the world scene.
A CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report published Friday describes in detail the first seven US cases reported to the CDC as of August 31, 2016, in four states: Illinois (2), Maryland (1), New Jersey (1) and New York (3).
Thirteen individuals have become ill from this fatal fungal infection, some strains of this yeast are multidrug-resistant and cannot be treated by the major classes of antifungal medications.
It is the first time that the fungus, which is easily misidentified in lab tests as a more common candida yeast infection, has been found in the US, and four of the first seven patients with it have died.
“We need to act now to better understand, contain and stop the spread of this drug-resistant fungus,” the CDC’s director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, said in a statement. “This is an emerging threat, and we need to protect vulnerable patients and others.”
C. auris’s emergence and apparent global spread it was first identified in Japan in 2009 and since then has been found in a dozen countries on four continents put the pathogen on the ever growing list of superbugs, disease causing microbes that are resistant to many and, in some cases, all antibiotics.