Everything You Need to Know About Candida Auris, as Case Numbers Rise in the U.S.

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Mar. 21 2023, Published 12:51 p.m. ET

Source: Getty Images

Yet another disease is on the rise in the U.S. — and once again — vulnerable folks are most at risk.

Cases of a fungal infection called Candida auris have risen exponentially over the last few years. Numbers have skyrocketed across healthcare facilities, and among people who were already sick, as well as those who have invasive medical devices. And unfortunately, it's becoming increasingly resistant to antifungal drugs. That's why recognizing the symptoms of Candida auris is crucial.

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Even though cases rose notably in 2020 and 2021, the number of cases that were resistant to antifungal treatment tripled in 2021 — which leaves medical professionals both dumbfounded and concerned.

“The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control,” CDC epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Lyman stated in a press release.

Labs are now in the process of testing the fungus to learn more about it. Specifically, research is being done to figure out why cases have only just started gooing up in the U.S., and why the bacteria is becoming increasingly resistant to drugs. But in the meantime, it's important for you to educate yourself on the disease itself, to learn more about symptoms and prevention measures you can take against this potentially deadly ailment.

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Candida auris: what it is, symptoms, and more.

Candida auris (which is also known as C. auris) is a type of yeast that is highly dangerous, and in some cases, deadly.

According to the CDC, it usually enters the body through the bloodstream. It can cause severe infections, and it often has no response to treatment. It's most commonly spread among longtime hospital patients, those with central venous catheter or other tubes entering their body, or those who have recently taken antibiotics or antifungal medications.

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Symptoms of a Candida infection are most commonly fever and chills. People may also suffer from ear infections, possible lung infections, and/or wound infections that have remained unresponsive to antibacterial antibiotics.

However, Candida auris has to be identified through specialized lab testing. Regular laboratory tests can misidentify and therefore mismanage it, which can lead to major outbreaks. That's how many cases have spread throughout medical facilities.

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How does Candida auris spread?

Even though Candida auris might not be like most ailments you've learned about or come into contact with, it actually spreads like most bacterial infections do.

According to Virginia.gov, Candida auris generally spreads through direct contact and by contact with already-contaminated surfaces. You likely won't contract it if you aren't going into hospitals or old folk's homes.

C. auris most often spreads between patients in hospitals and nursing homes, because it most commonly impacts immunocompromised people, especially those with invasive medical devices.

Therefore, if you or someone you know may have a C. auris infection, it's important to get tested at a specialized lab right away, to prevent it from spreading any further.

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