CDC Warns of Potentially Fatal Fungal Infection in U.S. Hospitals
At least 13 cases of a potentially fatal fungal infection have been identified in U.S. hospitals, warn the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health regulators caution that Candida auris is usually resistant to typical anti-fungal medications, making it a grave threat to patients who are immunocompromised or diagnosed with serious medical conditions.
This summer, the CDC published a safety communication regarding the worldwide emergence of C. auris, asking hospitals to send any patient samples that test positive for the fungal infection to both the agency and local health departments. “We need to act now to better understand, contain and stop the spread of this drug-resistant fungus,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a November 4 press release. “This is an emerging threat, and we need to protect vulnerable patients and others.”
Candida auris – which has been dubbed the new “yeast superbug” — causes outbreaks in a manner that has never been witnessed before, and has been blamed for 4 deaths in the United States. At present, CDC scientists are scrambling to better understand how the fungus spreads, and effective measures to control it.
Deadly fungal infection outbreaks in hospitals
In their recent press release, the CDC reports on patients infected with C. auris in New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Maryland. All of the infected patients had been hospitalized for serious medical conditions when the yeast was discovered and diagnosed. None of the infected patients had medical histories that would explain their susceptibility to the fungus, but four of them were been treated in the same hospitals at different times.
Federal health regulators have confirmed that two of the patients who had almost identical strains of C. auris had been treated in the same long-term-care facility or hospital, suggesting the yeast was possibly spread in healthcare settings.
Dangers posed to hospitalized patients
C. auris has been identified in other countries around the world, but only in people who were already hospitalized. Here in the United States, all of the people infected with the super yeast were admitted to clinics, hospitals or nursing homes for chronic illnesses such as cancer. There is now major concern that the fungus is readily transferred in hospital environments, whether through equipment, caregivers or other means. Until an effective drug is found that kills C. auris, the CDC is recommending that health care professionals take strict precautions to ensure all equipment and rooms are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized, and infected patients isolated, to prevent the spread of the drug-resistant fungus.
Hospital-acquired infections have been the topic of numerous medical malpractice claims across the nation. Healthcare facilities and their staff have a duty to protect patients from injury through appropriate safety protocols and stringent sterilization practices. If a nursing home or hospital patient’s infection stems from the negligence of its doctors or employees, they may have the right to sue for damages.
If you or someone you love was harmed because of hospital negligence, litigation can help secure compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, ongoing care, disability and funeral expenses in the event of a death. New York medical malpractice lawyers at The Sanders Firm are offering free consultations to discuss your case. Dial 888.660.3714.
- CDC, First cases of Candida auris reported in United States https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p1104-candida-auris.html
- CDC, Vital Signs: Preventing Antibiotic-Resistant Infections in Hospitals — United States, 2014 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6509e1.htm