Washington, July 23 (IANS) A drug-resistant “superbug” fungus is spreading rapidly in the US states of Texas and Washington, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
The fungus, Candida auris (C auris), is an emerging, often multidrug-resistant yeast that is highly transmissible, resulting in healthcare-associated outbreaks, especially in long-term care facilities.
C auris, which preys on people with weakened immune systems, was first identified in 2009. Since 2013, it has caused at least 587 illnesses in the US.
According to evidence, the new cases involved person-to-person transmission, a first for the US, the CDC said.
While the agency found no epidemiologic links were between the Texas and DC clusters, 30-day mortality in both outbreaks combined was 30 per cent. But the relative contribution of C auris was unclear, the agency said.
Between January and April 2021, 101 cases of C auris were detected in Washingtion DC. Of these, three were isolated as being resistant to all three major classes of anti-fungal medications, at a long-term care facility.
During the same period, 22 cases of C auris were identified in Texas. Of these, two were resistant to all three major classes of anti-fungal medications, while five were resistant to two anti-fungal medications.
These seven cases were identified in patients who were cared for at two facilities that share patients in the same city; two patients were at a long-term acute care hospital, three at a short-term acute care hospital, and two at both facilities, the CDC said.
“These two simultaneous, independent clusters provide the first evidence suggesting that C auris strains might have been transmitted in US health care settings,” CDC’s Meghan Lyman, author of the report, said in a statement.
“Surveillance, public health reporting, and infection control measures are critical to containing further spread.
“Clinicians should consider early antifungal susceptibility testing in patients with C auris infection, especially in those with treatment failure. Data are lacking about the most appropriate therapy for anti-fungal resistant infections,” Lyman said.