This week, the United States Center for Disease and Control (CDC) announced that a new and deadly drug-resistant fungus is spreading quickly across the country.
According to the CDC, the fungus is called Candida auris or C. auris and was detected in 2016 and has spread more quickly thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency described the fungus as an “urgent threat” because of its resistance to an antifungal medicine called echinocandins.
Officials note that the fungus is identifiable by testing bodily fluids, but it is more difficult to distinguish from others, making it challenging to diagnose and contain.
According to the CDC’s website, the drug-resistant fungus can cause bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections. While it is separate from respiratory and urine specimens, it is unclear if the fungus can cause infections in the lung or bladder.
In a recently published paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine, CDC Doctor Meghan Lyman said that the “rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control.”
According to the CDC, last year, California witnessed 359 clinical cases of the fungus, while Nevada contained 384 reported cases. More than half of states in the U.S. have C. auris, with New York and California having the most fungus cases since its discovery in 2016.
The CDC notes that around 30 to 60 percent of infected people have died from the drug-resistant fungus, but that is “based on information from a limited number of patients,” the CDC said.
“Nationwide, clinical cases rose from 476 in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021. Screening cases tripled from 2020 to 2021, for a total of 4,041. Screening is important to prevent spread by identifying patients carrying the fungus so that infection prevention controls can be used,” according to the CDC.
The agency has said that the drug-resistant fungus is not threatening to healthy individuals but “can cause severe infections with high death rates.” Officials say it has spread in healthcare facilities with poor infection control and prevention plans. Since the fungus’ discovery in 2016 and the years after, there have been 3,270 clinical cases.
According to officials at the CDC, one reason there has been an increase in case counts is that more individuals are currently choosing to get screened for the drug-resistant fungus than in 2016.
Following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, new research continues to find that Americans are increasingly physically and psychologically unhealthy because of the extreme lockdown policies.
During the lockdowns, rates of obesity and drug intake climbed among young Americans, leading to mental depression, suicide, and unhealthy lifestyles that affected their health against diseases.
Despite lockdown policies lifted in states like California, Nevada, and other parts of the country, experts say that the U.S. continues to face the long-term health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.