A deadly "superbug" sponge spreads throughout the United States, and health officials are growing increasingly.
The fungus, a type of yeast called Candida auris can lead to infection in the bloodstream, heart or brain, and these infections are difficult to treat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in March that nearly 600 cases in 12 states have been confirmed so far in 2019. Alarming, more than a third of patients developing an invasive infection from Candida auris ] dies according to the CDC.
The fungus does not just hit the United States: It has been discovered in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and Africa. There are three main classes of antifungal drugs, and some Candida auris infections are resistant to all of them. That is why some call Candida auris a superbug, a name typically given to bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Candida auris infections can be difficult to recognize, Bernard Camins, MD, medical director of infection prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, Health . "The symptoms should not be any different from any other infection you see." They include fever, weakness, low blood pressure and tired.
A similar fungus Candida albicans further muddled the water, Dr. Camins. " Candida albicans can also cause bloodstream infections in healthcare settings," he says, and it is difficult even for doctors to distinguish between the two. The drug-resistant character of Candida auris "makes it harder to treat," he says. "That's the difference."
Before you fail: Candida auris has only been reported among hospitalized patients in the health facilities and only 587 cases have been confirmed throughout the country. People in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics are at greater risk of becoming ill from Candida auris living on contaminated equipment and surfaces in such settings. The fungus can live on your skin and not cause an infection. But if it infects a wound or your blood, it can be fatal. Infections are most common in people with already weakened immune systems taking many antibiotics, or have devices such as feeding or breathing tubes entering their bodies, according to the CDC.
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A recent New York Times report highlighted the fact that it is not always clear which facilities are affected.
This is because hospital workers do not need to publish the public if Candida auris has been discovered within their facility. In fact, the CDC is not allowed to recognize hospitals trying to control the spread of Candida auris and other potentially dangerous bugs according to the report Times .
Some say that the spread of a deadly fungus in a hospital would do more harm than good, and keep people from seeking medical care when they need it. Others say reluctantly that information is not fair. "Who speaks for the child who got the flu from the hospital worker or to the patient who received MRSA from a deceit? The idea is not to be ashamed or humiliate, but if we do not pay more attention to outbreaks of infectious diseases, nothing will change, "says Arthur Caplan, PhD, to New York Times.
States handle such outbreaks differently, says Dr. Camins. For example, in New York, health professionals should report cases of Candida auris to the state health department, he says. The health department then lets the CDC know about the presence of the fungus on a plant.
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The health service takes certain precautions to prevent the spread of Candida auris says Dr. Camins. Virtually these precautions are "the same thing we have done for other resistant bacteria." It includes disinfecting plant surfaces with bleach, he says, and assuring hospital workers wear a gown and gloves when in contact with a patient with a Candida auris infection . Fresh Americans "probably have a low chance of [Candida auris] infection," according to the CDC. However, washing your hands carefully and often, if you visit or care for someone in a health care system, cannot hurt. If you are going to be there often, you may want to consider bleaching surfaces around you with bleach now and then.
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