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Seattle Reports Outbreak Of Rare, Drug-Resistant Fungal Infection: Here’s What To Know

An alarming outbreak of a multi-drug resistant fungal infection has been reported in Washington state, prompting concerns about its high mortality rate, resistance to drugs, and the ease with which it can spread in healthcare facilities.

Key Details:

– The public health department of Seattle and King County recently confirmed three cases of Candida auris infection, following an initial case identified on January 10.
– Candida auris, a rare but severe fungus, is known for its resistance to antifungal medications, making it highly transmissible.
– All affected individuals were patients at Kindred Hospital Seattle, and the first case was detected through proactive screening during admission.
– The source of the outbreak is yet to be determined, but measures are being taken to isolate infected patients and inform facilities that had previously admitted patients from Kindred Hospital.
– In May 2023, the CDC issued a warning about the escalating cases of Candida auris in healthcare facilities, categorizing it as an “urgent antimicrobial resistant threat.”

Key Statistics:

– In 2022, the U.S. recorded 2,377 cases of Candida auris infections, with an additional 5,754 individuals carrying the fungus on their bodies without active infection.
– Candida auris was initially identified in Japan in 2009 and has been under U.S. surveillance since 2016, witnessing a substantial rise during the COVID-19 pandemic between 2020 and 2021.
– Approximately 90% of Candida auris strains display resistance to at least one antifungal, while 30% are resistant to at least two.

Background:

– Candida auris cases have been reported in 36 states, with the highest incidences in New York, Illinois, New Jersey, California, and Florida.
– The fungus is frequently misdiagnosed, and its easy spread in healthcare facilities is attributed to its ability to survive on surfaces for at least two weeks.
– In contrast to COVID-19, which can survive on surfaces for up to three days, Candida auris presents a prolonged risk.

Concerns:

– Candida auris can lead to severe infections, resulting in hospitalization, particularly in healthcare patients with serious medical conditions.
– The mortality rate for invasive Candida auris infections, affecting vital areas like the heart, brain, and blood, is as high as one in three.

To sum up, the outbreak of the multi-drug resistant Candida auris in Washington state is causing significant apprehension due to its drug resistance, potential for rapid transmission, and severe health implications, especially within healthcare settings. Ongoing efforts aim to identify the outbreak’s source and contain its spread.

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