A potentially deadly and drug-resistant fungal disease is spreading at a rapid pace in hospitals across the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned this week.
Cases of Candida auris — a fungus that causes serious bloodstream infections and even death in people with weakened immune systems — have skyrocketed in recent years and saw a “dramatic” uptick in 2021, according to a report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine Monday.
That year, the number of cases increased a whopping 95%, from 756 in 2020 to 1,471 in 2021, according to CDC data.
The latest numbers from the agency show that cases continued to climb last year with 2,377 clinical cases reported.
The CDC stated that the fungus “presents a serious global health threat.” More than one in three patients with a Candida auris inflection of the blood, heart or brain die, according to the agency.
Candida auris commonly spreads in hospitals and nursing homes through person-to-person contact as well as contact with contaminated surfaces and equipment. The fungus can live on surfaces for several weeks, according to the CDC.
The potentially fatal fungus often cannot be treated with traditional antifungal medications, compounding a rise in infections. The number of drug-resistant strains is also rising, according to the report authors.
The health officials called the increase in the untreatable cases and evidence of worsening transmission “particularly concerning.”
Cases of the fungal disease have been detected in more than half of the 50 states. Health officials believe the number of infections increased in COVID-19’s wake after some health centers suspended admission screenings for the fungus.
The study authors said “improved detection and infection control practices” are critically needed to prevent further spread of the fungus.