(And the authorities are keeping it a secret)
“It’s a creature from the black lagoon. It’s bubbled up and now it’s everywhere. We are dealing with an organism we don’t have drugs to treat. That is what worries us.”
Those are the words of Dr. Tom Chiller, who heads up the mycotic (fungal) disease branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1
The pathogen he is deeply concerned about is called Candida auris. It’s a serious global threat. .
The fungus was first identified in Japan in 2009 when a woman had the infection in her ear, hence it was called auris, Latin for ear. The infection was easily treatable and doctors paid little attention to it.
But it evolved, and various strains emerged – in just ten years! It moved from harmless to drug resistant in a very short space of time, something Dr. Snigdha Vallabhaneni, a fungal expert at the CDC, describes as “mind-boggling.”
Where and why this fungus burst on the scene is not known, but infectious disease specialist Dr. Johanna Rhodes from Imperial College London was clear about who deserves the blame: “We are driving this with the use of fungicides on crops.”
The CDC is now actively tracking the infection worldwide.
As of March 31 there were 613 confirmed clinical cases and 30 probable cases in the United States. An additional 1,123 patients have been colonized with C. auris through screening, but show no symptoms.
Nearly all the cases are in New York, Illinois and New Jersey, with a smattering of cases in nine other states. It’s also been found in many other countries around the world.
The “Top Threat” Among all Infections
The CDC describe C. auris as “a serious global health threat,” causing severe illness in hospitalized patients. More than nine out ten infections are resistant to one drug and 30% — nearly a third — to two or more.
Among all types of resistant infections, Dr. Lynn Sosa from the Connecticut Department of Public Health sees C auris as the “the top” threat. “It’s pretty much unbeatable and difficult to identify,” she said.
According to the CDC the death rate in confirmed cases is 30% and half the deaths occur within 90 days.
Stay Away From Hospitals
The main danger of invasive infection comes from hospitals and long-term care facilities. It can spread from one person to another and persist on surfaces.
People previously prescribed antifungals, antibiotics, or who have catheters or tube lines in their bodies are the most vulnerable, as well as those with serious medical conditions and weakened immune systems.
A fungal disease specialist, Professor David S Perlin from New Jersey Medical School, said, “It’s hard to eradicate from hospitals” because while most fungi die when they leave the body, C. auris can remain active for days.
In short, it’s a tough microbe. A survivor.
In 2015, the infection took hold at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London with 50 cases.
In a room previously put aside for one such patient, aerosolized hydrogen peroxide had to be sprayed continuously for a week to decontaminate it.
At Mount Sinai hospital in Brooklyn, the room of an infected patient who died was found to be infested with it. Every surface and item in the room tested positive. Some floor and ceiling tiles had to be ripped out to eradicate the pathogen.
It also swept through a hospital in Spain, killing 41% of infected patients within 30 days.
No hospital will issue any warning if an outbreak takes place, because they don’t want to cause alarm, and the CDC has agreed with every state not to make any public announcement.
Reminds me of the movie Jaws, where authorities in a beach community didn’t warn tourists they might be eaten by a shark, because it might be bad for business.
So what can you do?
The best solution is to stay out of the hospital by following a healthy lifestyle, and eat organically grown food as much as possible.
If you do have to be admitted:
- Ask for a private room. The infection risk is lower
- Make sure no doctor or nurse attends you without first washing their hands
- Keep your immune system strong by eating a healthy diet and taking immune supporting supplements well before you enter the hospital
When in hospital have family members or friends bring nourishing food in to you. You won’t get it otherwise