Drug-resistant fungal infection surging across the US, cases in Arizona hospitals and nursing homes

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 5:54 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 28, 2023 at 11:02 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - A dangerous multi-drug-resistant fungus is rapidly spreading in hospitals across the nation. Cases have tripled in just three years.

“The reason this has become such a serious global public health threat is that it’s become resistant to several classes of antifungals,” said Saman Nematollahi, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

As Candida Auris spreads throughout hospitals and nursing homes, health professionals are bracing for a possible surge here at home. Compared to 2020, Mariana Singletary, Epidemiologist for Pima County Health Department said it’s a huge difference.

“What we’ve seen is the graph is going really up,” said Singletary.

The infection is not only drug-resistant, but hard to diagnose.

“Healthy individuals are not at risk for Candida Auris, but the ones that are at risk are the ones with weak immune systems or those who have long dueling medical devices,” said Nematollahi.

Singletary added, “Especially high-risk people who have any type of tube. Feeding tubes, catheters for dialysis, urethral catheters, and things like that.”

Outbreaks are being seen in health care settings, especially those that are short-staffed.

As hospital workers were strained by coronavirus patients, health professionals say their focus likely shifted away from disinfecting other kinds of germs.

Not all disinfectants for COVID work on Candida Auris, and not everyone follows all label instructions for the product to be effective as it should. It’s important for all medical professionals to read the label and use products as indicated.

“Really the best way to try to prevent this is to reduce the amount of Candida Auris that patients harbor on their bodies so that it doesn’t spread to other patients. *this is why we do surveillance and screening of close contacts. The biggest thing we can do is to head hand? hygiene. Soap and water or alcohol-based solutions to get rid of the fungal spores and cleaning the facilities and equipment with proper disinfectant,” said Nematollahi

To date in Arizona, there are 22 clinical cases of Candida Auris and 18 screening cases. The clinical cases are sick due to the infection with the fungus, while the screening cases are asymptomatic and are detected by surveillance of close contacts.

The hardest hit states now are California, Nevada, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York.