This fungus is spreading through the U.S., and it’s becoming a health threat

Drug resistant candida auris cases are on the rise

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Monday that an emerging fungus, candida auris, is now considered an urgent antimicrobial resistance threat that is spread “at an alarming rate” within U.S. health care facilities from 2020 through 2021. The CDC also warned of the fungus’s improving resistance to antifungal medicine.

“Equally concerning was a tripling in 2021 of the number of cases that were resistant to echinocandins, the antifungal medicine most recommended for treatment of C. auris infections,” the CDC reported.

Candida auris is not a threat to healthy people. However, the fungus spreads more effectively among those that are sick or are utilizing invasive medical devices.

“CDC has deemed C. auris as an urgent AR threat, because it is often resistant to multiple antifungal drugs, spreads easily in healthcare facilities, and can cause severe infections with high death rates,” the CDC reported.

Clinical cases of the candida auris fungus have increased each year since 2016. From 2019 to 2021, 17 states identified their first cases of the fungus ever.

“The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control,” CDC epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Lyman said in the CDC report.

The CDC largely lays the blame of the rise of of the candida auris fungus within the U.S. at the feet of poor health care practices.

“C. auris case counts have increased for many reasons, including poor general infection prevention and control (IPC) practices in healthcare facilities,” the CDC reported. “Case counts may also have increased because of enhanced efforts to detect cases, including increased colonization screening, a test to see if someone has the fungus somewhere on their body but does not have an infection or symptoms of infection. The timing of this increase and findings from public health investigations suggest C. auris spread may have worsened due to strain on healthcare and public health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.”