More than 100 patients at a US nursing home and two hospitals have been infected with an untreatable fungus, including three victims who died, federal officials say.
The ongoing outbreaks of the drug-resistant “superbug,” Candida auris, at a Washington, DC, nursing home and two Dallas, Texas-area hospitals were reported by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.
It appears that the drug-resistant strain, which brings fever and chills, spread from patient to patient for the first time in the US. Earlier cases diagnosed in New York in 2019 were also resistant to the drugs, but nothing indicated those patients had passed the bug to each other.
The harmful form of yeast was first identified in 2009 in Asia before spreading worldwide, according to a CDC fact sheet.
The 123 cases at the two Dallas-area hospitals and a nursing home in DC were identified from January to April. Three of the five patients who did not respond to treatment died, including two in Texas and one in DC, according to CDC officials.
Additional infections have also been identified since April, but those figures were not included in Thursday’s release.
“This is the first time we’ve seen clusters of pan-resistant C. auris, which suggests spread within U.S. healthcare facilities,” Dr. Meghan Lyman of the CDC said in a statement.
“While we’ve only seen a small number of cases, it’s likely that there are more cases not being identified,” Lyman said. “So we are urging healthcare facilities to take proactive steps to identify and prevent spread of this fungus so that it does not gain a foothold in their patient population.”
The fungus started spreading in the US in 2015, with a 318 percent reported rise in cases by 2018 when compared to the average number reported from 2015 to 2017, CDC officials said.
It’s unclear why four different strains of the fungus emerged worldwide around the same time — all of which have been identified in the US. Cases have been reported in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Indiana and several other states.
More than 587 cases throughout the US were identified by the CDC in 2019, with most of the confirmed infections occurring at New York City hospitals. An elderly man died at Mount Sinai Hospital in May 2018 from the bug after abdominal surgery, The Post reported in April 2019.
“It looks spooky, and it is,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in May 2019 while calling for the CDC to declare a medical emergency. “It’s a fungus that has no cure, and it’s resistant.”
The bug, which typically infects those with pre-existing conditions, later spread throughout New Jersey, with 141 cases reported in December 2019.
Up to 60 percent of people infected by Candida auris have died, according to the CDC.
“However, many of these people had other serious illnesses that also increased their risk of death,” the agency said.
With Post wires