Last June, federal health officials warned U.S. clinics about the hard to spot Candida Auris, a fungal yeast strain that was first reported in Japan. The limited information has painted the strain with a 60% kill rate and with a resistance to all three major classes of antifungal drugs. Unlike most infections, invasive Candida Auris is based in the bloodstream, and is susceptible to people who are already sick, making this a dangerous pathogen to be present in hospitals.
Twenty eight cases have been reported in New York City, as well as minor ones in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. One significant problem with invasive Candida Auris is how difficult it is to spot with basic laboratory tests, meaning that it’s usually caught after the patient’s death. This microbe is among a growing group of drug-resistant pathogens. So far this particular strand hasn’t evolved, which gives scientists time to isolate and examine it. Typically fungal infections aren’t worrisome, raising flags of the seriousness of drug resistance threats.
The U.S. faces another problem with proposed budget cuts, which include programs that focus on disease outbreak prevention within the Center for Disease Control. The first to be affected will be the epidemiology programs and front-line scientists at ground zero laboratories, such as those who assisted in the Zika virus outbreak. Without the solutions and base information these programs obtain, hospitals will struggle even more to combat the elusive infection. While for now the infection is mostly a risk for those already sick, the smallest mutation could change that.
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