If you’re young and healthy then you’ve nothing to be concerned about. If you’re older, immunocompromised, or suffering from other serious diseases that require hospitalization, then contracting this drug-resistant fungus could kill you.
A cluster of 22 patients in the Dallas-area hospitals included two patients who were resistant to all three major classes of antifungal medications has just been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both those patients died.
Candida Auris proves fatal to one in three people it infects in patients who are at risk. The reasons are relatively simple. The fungus is completely resistant to any medication we have, effectively making it a superbug. More worryingly, the cases in Dallas suggest person-to-person transmission rather than infection from surfaces.
Unbelievably, Dallas health officials and the Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council have decided to play coy, not naming the two hospitals involved. A spokesman for the Hospital Council, Chris Wilson, made the following statement to Dallas News;
“We’ve been contacted multiple times by the media, and I’m afraid we have no information on this,” Wilson said Thursday.
The CDC has also failed to name the hospitals involved, effectively placing patients in harm’s way. Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, could not be reached for comment.
The fungus, Candida Auris, is a harmful form of yeast that is considered dangerous to hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems. It is most deadly when it enters the bloodstream, heart, or brain. and outbreaks in healthcare facilities have been spurred when the fungus spread through patient contact or on contaminated surfaces.
Dr. Floyd Wormley Jr., the associate provost for research and dean of graduate studies at Texas Christian University, said the superbug primarily affects people who are severely immunocompromised. A healthy person with the fungus has “nothing to worry about” but could be a carrier, potentially infecting others at risk.
Wormley said he was worried to see that the fungus had spread in hospitals where people might be immunocompromised or elderly. It can be difficult to eradicate once it spreads, he said.
“If I was in an intensive-care unit and I saw this, I would be concerned and want to decontaminate,” he said. “No hospital wants it there. Definitely. But for the public, if you are immunocompetent, young and healthy, I would not be concerned.”
If you need to be hospitalized in the Dallas Forth Worth area and you’re at risk from the fungus, then patients should be afforded the option of avoiding the two hospitals involved in the outbreak. The current media blackout from officials makes no sense in terms of protecting patients.
How serious is it? According to the CDC’s Dr. Meghan Lyman;
“This is really the first time we’ve started seeing clustering of resistance” in which patients seemed to be getting the infections from each other.”
Clearly an issue of concern to the general public and patients requiring hospitalization in the Dallas Fort Worth area.