Study: Fungi spread at an alarming rate in US healthcare facilities

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — The number of clinical cases of “Candida auris”, an emerging fungus that poses an urgent threat, has doubled since 2021, according to new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Control (CDC).

The number of cases of resistance to echinocandin, the first-line treatment for this type of fungus infection, also tripled.

The research, published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, assessed cases of Candida auris infection reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 2016, the period when such cases were first reported in the United States, through 2021.

The study authors found that clinical cases are increasing annually, with an increase from 53 cases in 2016, to 330 cases in 2018, 476 cases in 2019, and 1,471 cases in 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control has described the fungus as an “urgent threat” due to its multidrug resistance, easy spread through health care facilities, and the potential to cause fatal disease.

It is also resistant to some common antiseptics, while being able to remain on the skin without causing symptoms, which facilitates its transmission to others.

The timing of the increased spread, the researchers wrote, suggests it may be exacerbated by “pandemic-related stress on healthcare and the public health system.”

“The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning, and underscores the need for continued surveillance, increased laboratory capacity, and faster availability of diagnostic tests,” said Dr. Megan Lehman, a CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the study.

growing threat

The spread of Candida auris in the United States comes amid growing concerns about the fungus, which threatens health.

Late last year, the World Health Organization released its first list of “priority fungal pathogens,” which includes the fungus Candida auris.

The organization indicated that the spread of fungal diseases and the expansion of their geographical range may be a result of global warming, increased international trade, and travel.

The authors of the new study explain that transmission of the fungus within the United States is largely due to “poor general infection prevention and control practices in health care settings.”

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