Some ba­sic facts about the spread of the Can­dida au­ris fun­gus

The Buffalo News - - WORLD NEWS - By Matt Richtel What is Can­dida au­ris? Why is it so dan­ger­ous? Who is at risk? Why haven’t peo­ple heard about this? Can I do any­thing to pro­tect my­self?

Amys­te­ri­ous and dan­ger­ous fun­gal in­fec­tion called Can­dida au­ris has emerged around the world. It is re­sis­tant to many an­ti­fun­gal med­i­ca­tions, plac­ing it among a grow­ing num­ber of germs that have evolved de­fenses against com­mon medicines. Here are some ba­sic facts about it.

Ques­tion: Answer:

Can­dida au­ris is a fun­gus that, when it gets into the blood­stream, can cause dan­ger­ous in­fec­tions that can be life-threat­en­ing. Sci­en­tists first iden­ti­fied it in 2009 in a pa­tient in Japan. In re­cent years, it has emerged around the world, largely in hos­pi­tals and nurs­ing homes. There have been 587 C. au­ris cases re­ported in the United States, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, most of them in New York, New Jersey and Illi­nois.

Q: A:

C. au­ris is of­ten re­sis­tant to ma­jor an­ti­fun­gal drugs that are typ­i­cally used to treat such in­fec­tions. The CDC says that more than 90 per­cent of C. au­ris in­fec­tions are re­sis­tant to at least one such drug, while 30 per­cent are re­sis­tant to two or more ma­jor drugs. Once the germ is present, it is hard to erad­i­cate from a fa­cil­ity. Some hos­pi­tals have had to bring in spe­cial clean­ing equip­ment and even rip out floor and ceil­ing tiles to get rid of it.

Q:

Peo­ple with com­pro­mised or weak­ened im­mune sys­tems are the most vul­ner­a­ble. This in­cludes el­derly peo­ple, and also peo­ple who are al­ready sick; in at least one case, new­borns were in­fected at a neona­tal unit. Peo­ple with weak­ened im­mu­nity are likely to have more trou­ble fight­ing off an ini­tial in­va­sion by C. au­ris and also are likely to be in set­tings, like hos­pi­tals and nurs­ing homes, where the in­fec­tion is more preva­lent.

A: Q: A:

The rise of C. au­ris has been lit­tle pub­li­cized in part be­cause it is so new. But also, out­breaks have at times been played down or kept con­fi­den­tial by hos­pi­tals, doc­tors, even gov­ern­ments. Some hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als ar­gue that be­cause pre­cau­tions are taken to pre­vent the spread, pub­li­ciz­ing an out­break would scare peo­ple un­nec­es­sar­ily.

Q: A:

The symp­toms of C. au­ris – fever, aches, fa­tigue – are not un­usual, so it is hard to rec­og­nize the in­fec­tion with­out test­ing. The good news is that the threat of be­com­ing sick with C. au­ris is very low for healthy peo­ple go­ing about their daily lives. If you or a loved one is in a hospi­tal or nurs­ing home, you can ask if there have been cases of Can­dida au­ris there. If so, it is rea­son­able to re­quest that proper “in­fec­tion con­trol” pre­cau­tions are taken. In the United States, this ques­tion would be most rel­e­vant in New York, New Jersey and Illi­nois, specif­i­cally Chicago, where the germ has been con­cen­trated.

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