ATLANTA — A deadly fungal infection is spreading across the globe, and here in the United States, it is getting dangerously close to Georgia, with more than a dozen cases reported in Florida.
Known as Candida Auris, the yeast disease is resistant to known anti-fungal drugs. Under a microscope, the fungus looks innocent enough, but health officials warn it can be deadly.
Candida Auris was first discovered in Japan 10 years ago, but only recently was labeled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an urgent health threat. So, is this something we should fear?
For now, Chief of the Fungal Disease Section for the CDC Dr. Tom Chiller says the fungal infection is confined to hospitals. But even with that limited possibly deadly exposure, its already been identified in more than 30 countries.
"It doesn’t have specific symptoms, and is found in patients who are very sick," Chiller said. "They are in intensive care units or have had multiple medical invasive procedures. It presents itself with general symptoms like fever and low blood pressure."
He added that it “affects the sickest of the sick in our hospitals.”
But fighting Candida Auris is fraught with dangers.
“It has resistance to anti-fungal drugs and it acquires that resistance readily easily, and once it becomes resistant, there is not much you can do to treat it,” Chiller said.
But there is some encouraging news about the spread of Candida Auris. The yeast infection, says the CDC, is not yet out in the general population. The key now is to make sure it does not get there, and that means taking precautions whenever you visit a patient in intensive care or undergo multiple medical procedures.
“Hospitals unfortunately harbor a lot of these bad bugs, and it is important as you visit a hospital or enter a hospital, always be aware that you need to wash your hands; that you need to make sure your health care provider and nurses are washing their hands, and that everyone is trying to prevent the spread of these infections,” Chiller urged.
If you do come in contact with a seriously ill patient and take the proper precautions entering and leaving.
“We definitely know that we have not identified any cause of any illness in the general community just because it is on your skin,” Chiller added.
The most important thing to remember as this fungus continues to spread across the globe and nears Georgia is to remain vigilant and take every precaution while with seriously ill patients in the hospital.