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‘Serious global health threat:’ CDC warns of drug-resistant superbug fungus; 587 cases in 12 states

Candida auris (CDC)

NEW YORK — The CDC is warning about a drug-resistant superbug fungus that had sickened people in 12 states — not including Wisconsin — as of the end of February.

Candida auris, or C. auris was added to the federal list of germs considered “urgent threats,” indicating this fungus “presents a serious global health threat,” and “causes severe illness in hospitalized patients in several countries, including the United States.”

The CDC said patients can remain colonized with C. auris for a long time, and it can persist on surfaces in health care environments, which can result in the spread of the fungus between patients and health care facilities.

According to the CDC, 587 cases had been confirmed as of Feb. 28, with 30 probable cases — most in the New York, New Jersey and Chicago areas.

New York had the highest number of confirmed cases — 309. Illinois had the second highest number of confirmed cases — 144. There were 104 confirmed cases in New Jersey.

The CDC noted an additional 1,056 patients were found to be colonized with C. auris via targeted screening in seven states with clinical cases.

Medical experts said overuse of antibiotics is apparently making the fungus very resistant to drugs.

It mostly affects people whose health is most vulnerable — the elderly, sick patients and sick infants. According to the CDC,symptoms may not be noticeable, because patients are often already sick in the hospital with another serious illness or condition. Symptoms depend on the part of the body affected. C. auris can cause many different types of infection, such as bloodstream infection, wound infection, and ear infection.

Officials at Mount Sinai Brooklyn confirmed the fungus there, after the New York Times found an elderly patient died. Hospital officials said they were employing “special contact precautions, the use of effective disinfectants to clean all surfaces, methods to quickly identify patients who are colonized or infected, and constant monitoring. These protocols have led to the eradication of this resistant germ at Mount Sinai Brooklyn.”

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