The rise of a new superbug: candida auris

Candida AurisCC: Pawel Czerwinski at Unsplash

Just 10 years ago, scientists discovered Candida Auris. As one of the latest superbugs to strike fear among medics, it’s remained mainly unproblematic until recently. Today, it’s rapidly becoming one of the most prevalent hospital superbugs that doctors are struggling to tackle. According to some researchers, increasing temperatures are to blame.

What is Candida Auris?

As you may have guessed, Candida Auris is a form of fungus. It’s closely related to Candida Albicans, which most people will encounter at some stage in their lives in the form of thrush. In the case of Candida albicans, treatments are usually easy to access and highly effective. Despite being a close relative, Candida Auris isn’t as simple to tackle.

Candida Auris is particularly problematic when it makes its way into the bloodstream. Additionally, it can cause infections in the respiratory and nervous system. To date, around 60% of those who developed the infection have gone on to die.

Who is at risk of the superbug?

Fortunately, most people aren’t at risk of Candida Auris. However, if you enter a medical facility, your risk increases.

Much like other forms of Candida, Auris is likely to colonize along lines and tubes that enter your body. You’re more at risk if you spend a lot of time in a nursing home, hospital, or another similar facility. Your risk rises further when you have an indwelling catheter, venflon, feeding tube, or another similar device. Additionally, if you’ve recently undergone surgery or you’ve used broad-spectrum antibiotics that wipe out your protective flora, you need to remain vigilant. Finally, those who have a diabetes diagnosis have a great risk of all types of thrush, including Candida Auris.

Fortunately, the CDC is pushing for doctors and other healthcare professionals to remain vigilant. As a result, facilities throughout Fairfax and surrounding areas will likely be watching out for Candida Auris in the same way they look out for MRSA.

Has Virginia seen many cases so far?

So far there’s only been one confirmed case in Virginia, which suggests that the state’s healthcare facilities are keeping it well contained. Surrounding states have seen more cases. In New Jersey, there’s been 101 confirmed and 22 probable cases. New York has seen 309 confirmed cases and Illinois has encountered 144. In total, there has been 587 confirmed cases across the United States.

Like all superbugs, Candida auris poses problems because it is resistant to the treatments medical professionals can usually rely on. As such, a combination of vigilance from medical professionals and patients is required to prevent over-subscribing medications and driving case numbers upward.

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About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.