Rise in C. auris infections 'really concerning': CDC

There is an emerging threat of Candida auris, a fungus that is becoming more resistant to treatment, the CDC said March 20. 

The first C. auris case in the U.S. was reported in 2016, and from that infection to December 2021, clinical cases grew 95 percent, according to a CDC study published March 21 in Annals of Internal Medicine

The increases, "especially in the most recent years, are really concerning to us," Meghan Lyman, MD, the study's lead author and chief medical officer of the CDC's mycotic diseases branch, told NBC News. "We've seen increases not just in areas of ongoing transmission, but also in new areas."

From 2019 to 2021, 17 states reported their first C. auris case and cases resistant to antifungal drugs tripled, the study found. Thirty-five states and Washington, D.C., have seen C. auris infections, according to the CDC.

From 2016 to 2021, 3,270 clinical cases, in which infection is present, and 7,413 screening cases, in which the fungus is detected but does not lead to infection, were reported. 

The infection spreads rapidly in healthcare facilities, particularly among individuals who are already sick from other conditions, according to the CDC. Clusters of C. auris infections have recently been reported in a Detroit specialty hospital, a Nevada hospital and a Mississippi long-term care facility

Somewhere between 30 percent to 60 percent of people infected with the fungus have died, according to the CDC, but this estimate is based on limited information, and many had other serious illnesses.  

It is not a threat to healthy people, but those "who are very sick, have invasive medical devices, or have long or frequent stays in healthcare facilities are at increased risk for acquiring C. auris," the CDC said. Common symptoms include fever and chills. 

The recommended treatment and management are infection control methods and an echinocandin drug for clinical cases only.

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