A drug resistant fungus being called a global health threat has been detected in Illinois.
The Center for Disease Control issued a warning about Candida auris, a fungus that’s resistant to multiple anti-fungal treatments.
It is raising concerns because of its impact to patients who are already sick in hospitals and long term care facilities. This can also make symptoms difficult to detect.
Dr. Tina Tan from Lurie Children’s Hospital says C. auris was first identified 10 years ago in a Japanese patient.
“There have been multiple outbreaks in India, UK and in 2016, we saw this start causing outbreaks in the United States,” Tan said.
There are more than 600 confirmed and probable cases are now in 12 states, with more than 300 in New York. Illinois and New Jersey have more than 100 confirmed cases each. Most cases in Illinois are in Chicago.
“Most of the cases are seen in people in an ICU setting or have a traeceostomy or needs to be intubated or needs to be on a ventilator,” Tan said. “There are going to be much sicker individuals, usually adults, that have other immune-compromising conditions.”
Tan said of particular concern is how ineffective the most powerful anti-fungal drugs are when it comes to fighting candida auris. The most common drug is only 10% effective right now. The most powerful, broad spectrum she said, is closer to 70%.
Tan said people who are healthy and not in a hospital setting, the chances of getting sick because of this fungus isn’t high. But if you have a loved one, already in a hospital setting, it’s something to ask about.