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Spate of drug-resistant fungal infections found in Texas and DC hospitals, CDC warns

Candida auris may not be the household name that Covid-19 is, but that doesn’t mean scientists aren’t concerned about it. In a report released on Friday, the CDC noted that clusters of Candida auris cases have been reported in hospitals in Texas and Washington, DC since January, originating in healthcare facilities.

The fungus is highly transmissible, and “leads to invasive infections, including bloodstream infections” in 5%-to-10% of patients it colonizes. There was a 30% mortality rate in both the Texas and DC outbreaks, but as they occurred in hospitals, it is unclear what role the fungus played in these deaths.

Typically, fungal infections are treated with three classes of antifungal drugs: azoles, polyenes, and echinocandins. Candida auris is 85% resistant to azoles, 33% resistant to polyenes, and 1% resistant to echinocandins, the CDC warned in its report.

The CDC is concerned by the fact that both outbreaks occurred independently of each other. Its report concluded with a warning to physicians and hospital staff that “surveillance, public health reporting, and infection control measures are critical to containing further spread.” 

Before Covid-19 stole the attention of scientists and healthcare professionals last year, antibiotic-resistant infections were considered one of the gravest threats to the public. In late 2019, the CDC sounded the alarm about the rise in such infections, warning that drug-resistant ‘superbugs’ were infecting three million Americans annually and killing four people every hour.

Additionally, the World Health Organisation warned last December that the overuse of antibiotics during the coronavirus pandemic was creating a strain of antibiotic-resistant “super gonorrhea.”

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