Hundreds of cases of drug-resistant superbug reported in NYC

Federal health authorities are warning about an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat and is showing up in New York and New Jersey. The infection can become fatal in 30%-60% of patients.

It is called Candida auris (C. auris) and they are concerned for three main reasons. First, it is often multidrug-resistant. It is also difficult to identify with standard lab methods and can but misidentified in labs without specific technology. Finally, it has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings.

These risk factors include recent surgery, diabetes, broad-spectrum antibiotic and antifungal use. People who have recently spent time in nursing homes and have lines and tubes that go into their body (such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes and central venous catheters), seem to be at highest risk for C. auris infection. Infections have been found in patients of all ages, from preterm infants to the elderly. C. auris has caused bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections.

Candida auris cases have been reported across the world since it first turned up in Japan in 2009. Most C. auris cases in the United States have been detected in the New York City area, New Jersey, and the Chicago area. The largest number of cases have been reported in New York with 309 of 587 U.S. cases as of Feb. 28, 2019.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says U.S. C. auris cases are a result of inadvertent introduction into the country from a patient who had recently received healthcare in a country where C. auris has been reported or a result of local spread after such an introduction.

Most C. auris infections are treatable with a class of antifungal drugs called echinocandins. However, some C. auris infections have been resistant to all three main classes of antifungal medications, making them more difficult to treat.