First cases of deadly fungal infection reported in US: 8 things to know

Earlier this year, the CDC issued a warning to hospitals about an emerging, deadly yeast infection making its way across the globe. Now, local and state health departments and the CDC have identified 13 cases of Candida auris infections in the U.S.

Here are eight things to know about C. auris and the newly reported U.S. cases.

1. Many C. auris isolates are resistant to multiple antifungal drugs, with some strains showing resistance to all three major classes of antifungal medications. The fungus is difficult to identify and is often mistaken for other, less-dangerous Candida strains.

2. The yeast has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings (like a current outbreak in London) and is present in several countries, including Japan, Colombia, India, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Pakistan and others.

3. In June, the CDC issued a warning about the yeast and asked labs in the U.S. to report C. auris cases and send samples to the CDC. Since then, 13 cases have been identified. Seven of the cases were described in the most recent CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, but the other six were identified after the period covered by the report.

4. The seven cases were identified between May 2013 and August 2016 in four states: New York, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey. Four of those patients died, but it is unclear if their deaths were associated with the C. auris infection, as they all had serious underlying medical conditions.

5. In two instances, two patients were treated at the same healthcare facility and their C. auris strains were nearly identical.

6. Most of the C. auris strains in U.S. patients (71 percent) had some sort of drug resistance, but none of them were resistant to all three antifungal drug cases. Most of the samples seemed to be related to C. auris strains from South Asia and South America, but the effected patients had not traveled to that area, meaning they likely acquired the infection locally.

7. The CDC recommends hospitals implement Standard and Contact Precautions to prevent the spread of the yeast in their facilities. In rooms where a C. auris patient is discharged, workers should use an Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectant active against fungi.

8. "We need to act now to better understand, contain and stop the spread of this drug-resistant fungus," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD. "This is an emerging threat, and we need to protect vulnerable patients and others."

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