The drug-resistant fungus, Candida auris outbreak in Seattle, Washington has sparked headlines, but the deadly fungus has been present in many other states for years. What about Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky?

Candida Auris Outbreak in Seattle

There have been multiple confirmed cases of Candida auris in Seattle, Washington. All of the cases were confirmed to have been patients at the same hospital in the city. At this time, the source of the outbreak has not been confirmed, according to Forbes.

Why The CDC is Concerned About Candida Auris

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the fungus, known as Candida Auris or C. Auris, poses a "serious global health threat." The health organization says that this particular fungus is resistant to multiple, or even all of the current antifungal treatments available. Management of the fungus is made more challenging due to the difficulty of proper identification as well.

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CDC Tracking Candida Auris

Candida auris was first reported in the United States in 2016, and according to CDC data, there were 63 clinical cases and 14 screening cases in four states. Six of those clinical cases were found in Illinois. In 2017 the first case was confirmed in Indiana and the nationwide numbers grew to 173 clinical cases and 272 screening cases.

By the end of 2021, the CDC reported 1,474 clinical cases and 4,040 screening cases - 282 in Illinois, 64 in Indiana, and for the first time since being discovered in 2016, there were 7 cases in Kentucky. Fast forward, and the most recent data available from 2022 shows 2,377 reported clinical cases and 5,754 screening cases across the United States with 276 of those in Illinois, 87 in Indiana, and 22 in Kentucky.

attachment-c auris data 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What the Indiana Department of Health is Saying

The Indiana Department of Health has echoed the concerns of the CDC by again, calling this fungus a "global health threat."

<p><em>C. auris </em>is resistant to many of the antifungal drugs commonly used to treat infections. <em>C. auris</em> can cause many different types of infection, such as bloodstream, wound, urinary tract, and ear. Invasive <em>C. auris</em> infections have been associated with 30-60% mortality rates among hospitalized patients - Indiana Department of Health.</p><p> </p>

Symptoms of Candida Auris

The CDC says that there is no "common set of symptoms specific for C. auris infections."  However, UC Davis Health says that fever, chills, and sweating are common in patients with C. auris infections.

<p>The fungus can cause a bloodstream infection. Fever, chills, sweats and low blood pressure are the most common symptoms of a C. auris infection. Infections have been found in patients of all ages, from preterm infants to the elderly. - UC Davis</p><p> </p>

The Illinois Department of Public Health claims C. auris can cause serious infections, especially in wounds and even the bloodstream. Colinazation can also occur when individuals develop C. auris on their skin and this can lead to an increased risk of infection. 

<em>C. auris</em> can cause bloodstream infections and even death, particularly in hospital patients and nursing home residents with serious medical problems. More than 1 in 3 individuals with invasive <em>C. auris</em> infection (for example, an infection that affects the blood, heart, or brain) die. -Illinois Department of Public Health
attachment-candida auris hand hygiene

How Candida Auris Spreads

While those who are colonized may not experience any symptoms, they can spread the fungal infection to others. The C. auris is spread through direct contact with an infected person, as well as contact with a contaminated surface or object. The CDC says good hand hygiene is imperative to help stop the spread.

<p> </p><p><strong>Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) is the preferred hand hygiene method for <em>C. auris</em></strong> when hands are not visibly soiled. If hands are visibly soiled, wash with soap and water. Wearing gloves is not a substitute for hand hygiene. - CDC</p>

 Who Is at Risk of Candida Auris

According to the Cleveland Clinic, those most at risk for contracting C. auris are those with weakened immune systems and underlying health issues. Additionally, those who have been on extended treatment with antibiotics, who have had a recent surgery, or who have stayed in a hospital or healthcare facility may be more likely to contract the fungus.

To learn more about Candida auris, visit the CDC website.

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