Health Care

Alert over deadly fungus that thrives in hospitals

Alert over deadly fungus that thrives in hospitals

Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and IL, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed "urgent threats".

The New York Times has reported one case, in which an old man spent 3-months in hospital, eventually dying.

In May past year, an elderly man died in Mount Sinai Hospital from the fungus after abdominal surgery.

The symptoms are similar to flu-like conditions - fever, aches, and fatigue - and the "superbugs" resistant to medicine are most problematic for people, fatal even, with weak immune systems, particularly newborns, the elderly, and diabetics, according to the report.

The fungus "candida auris" hit several countries around the world over the last five years and was recently found in New York, New Jersey and IL.

The fungus can infect wounds, ears and the bloodstream and take root in the urinary tract.

The CDC is alerting US healthcare facilities to be on the lookout for C. auris in their patients.

Professor Sarah Gurr from the University of Exeter said, "Emerging resistance to antifungal drugs has largely gone under the radar, but without intervention, fungal conditions affecting humans, animals, and plants will become increasingly hard to counteract".

Two of the patients found to be infected with the antifungal-resistant germ died while the other nine recovered.

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Candida auris cases have been reported across the world since it first turned up in Japan in 2009.

The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe.

Most C. auris infections are treatable with a class of antifungal medications called echinocandins.

Nett said that not all standard laboratory diagnostic methods are created to accurately detect Candida auris relatively new species.

Chakrabarti adds that C.auris was increasingly catching the attention of healthcare providers because it resides largely in hospital ICUs and spreads fast.

How are Candida auris infections diagnosed?

While C. auris is resistant to some antifungal drugs, it is susceptible to others that can be used to treat it. "Candida auris is just the latest of these". But with drug-resistant fungi and bacteria, their genes evolve so quickly that the treatment meant to target them proves ineffective and allows the unsafe disease to spread.

"It's an enormous problem", professor of fungal epidemiology at Imperial College London Matthew Fisher told the Times. 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.

MOH spokesman said: "Healthcare institutions in Singapore have infection prevention and control measures in place to prevent and control any healthcare-associated infections, including C. auris". Most deaths occur within 90 days.