Will the next superbug be a fungus?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning healthcare professionals and pathologists about a new fungus gone rogue. Candida auris, a pathogenic fungus first identified in 2009 that has already become resistant to antifungal medications in some areas, appears to be escalating in the United States.

Thirteen cases of the fungal infection have been identified in the United States as of Nov. 4, all within hospital settings, the CDC reported. All cases were found east of the Mississippi River: Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.

Cases are rising globally as well, with cases documented in the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the United Kingdom. It’s tricky to identify and has a high risk of mortality, the CDC warns—Some of the outbreaks on other continents seem to have developed resistance to all three classes of antifungals already.

C. auris lives on the skin and in body fluids for months after initial infection, so it can be transferred easily, the CDC report notes. Disinfecting it in resident environments also can be a challenge, since the fungus is capable of surviving on surfaces, mattresses, bed rails and other places and may be resistant to many fungal disinfectants.

To learn more, read the CDC’s advisory for contact precautions in acute care settings.

Topics: Clinical , Infection control