The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Monday that the fungus Candida Auris is becoming a public healthcare threat. The announcement comes as the number of drug-resistant cases jumped in 2021.

Candida Auris is being called an urgent threat because of its resistance to medications. People suffering from serious illnesses run the most risk of getting infected with this fungus. It can even cause death in people who are already sick or use invasive medical devices. People having long or frequent stays at healthcare facilities can also be infected by this fungus.

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What does Candida Auris look like on the skin?

This fungus, also known as C. auris, forms high-burden biofilms in conditions that mimic sweat on the skin surface. For adherence of one’s skin to these biofilm communities, environmental conditions in the hospital setting are ideal.

Candida Auris spreading

Candida Auris was first detected in the U.S. in 2016. There have been 3,270 clinical cases in the U.S. between its first detection and December 2021. There also have been 7,413 screening cases, in which the fungus was present in patients, but was not causing infection, the CDC said.

The CDC said it is not seen as a threat to healthy people. About 30% to 60% of infected people have died from the yeast, “based on information from a limited number of patients,” the CDC said.

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“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,” CDC epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Lyman said.

It can spread from person to person contact, or from interactions with contaminated surfaces.

Candida Auris prevention

According to the CDC, in the past, cases of fungus seemed to have been on the rise due to a lack of prevention, lack of quality control in healthcare facilities, and fewer efforts to detect the same. However, at present public health officials have enhanced surveillance efforts to detect Candida Auris. This includes enhanced testing for the fungus on the bodies of asymptomatic people. Screening cases tripled from 2020 to 2021, for a total of 4,041.

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The fungus is particularly deadly for people with weakened immune systems and people with medical devices going their bodies, such as breathing tubes or catheters. People at increased risk of serious infection of Candida Auris can be protected through vigorous screening for the fungus.

Candida Auris symptoms

The most common symptoms of invasive Candida infection are fever and chills which fail to improve even after antibiotic treatment for a suspected bacterial infection. Nothing short of a laboratory test can diagnose C. auris infection.