Drug-resistant Candida auris spreads to Chicago, healthcare facilities

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Drug-resistant Candida auris spreads to New York City, New Jersey
The latest on the drug-resistant Canadida Auris as it spreads to New York City and New Jersey.

NEW YORK -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a deadly, drug-resistant fungus is spreading around healthcare facilities and is "a serious global health threat."

Candida auris preys on people with weakened immune systems by infecting the bloodstream. It's difficult to identify with standard technology and difficult to treat.

More than 587 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., mostly in New York City and Chicago, according to the CDC.

Illinois Department of Public Health officials said Monday that there were 154 confirmed cases in the state, with a high concentration in the Chicago area.

The health department says more than one in three people with an invasive C. auris infection die. IDPH described an invasive infection as one that affects the blood, heart or brain.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Todd Ellerin tells ABC News that this fungus is resistant to the typical cleaning agent that hospital and health care facilities often use.

"If we don't change the way we clean rooms, then the Candida will hang out there. It could potentially infect the next person that enters the room," Ellerin said.

The CDC says early detection of C. auris is essential for containing its spread in healthcare facilities.

People who have recently spent time in nursing homes and have lines and tubes that go into their body (such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes and central venous catheters), seem to be at highest risk for C. auris infection.

The CDC adds that infections have been found in patients of all ages, from preterm infants to the elderly.

The rare and deadly fungal disease first appeared in the U.S. in 2016. It first appeared globally in Japan in 2009, according to the CDC, and has spread to more than 20 countries.

For more information about C. auris, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.