Potentially deadly fungus on the rise: What you need to know

By now, you’ve probably heard that cases of Candida auris (C. auris), a fungal infection that can be deadly, are on the rise globally.

Most recently it’s been reported to have ramped up in China — but now, cases have emerged in Washington State.

But the truth is, cases reported in the U.S. have been on the rise since 2016, with a sharp increase occurring from 2020 to 2021.

We may see the fungus begin to spread to more states from the Washington state cluster, according to the experts. That’s why it’s important to have the facts…

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled the fungus as an urgent emerging threat for drug resistance.

So what do you need to know about C. auris and how can you determine whether you or your family is at risk?

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What is C. auris?

C. auris is actually yeast that belongs to a group of organisms known as fungi.

It may even sound familiar to you because the Candida species are the most common causes of fungal infection. Most of them, like C. albicans, produce mild infections, in people. These can include issues like:

  • Vaginal yeast infections
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Nail fungus
  • Thrush infections of the mouth

These types of Candida infections are mostly treatable but can become chronic. That’s why Candida is sometimes referred to as a silent epidemic. Some forms of the Candida species have even been linked to brain changes akin to Alzheimer’s.

But C. auris is especially dangerous, and here’s why…

Why is C. auris so dangerous?

The reason doctors across the country, as well as the CDC, are on the lookout for C. auris infections is that the fungus is multi-drug resistant.

This means that if you are infected, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find a drug that will work against it. In fact, there are only three effective antifungal drugs available.

The fungus can also spread rapidly, survive even highly stringent infection control measures, live in fabrics like sheets and clothes and last on hard surfaces for at least 28 days.

That makes it very easy to be exposed, especially for people in a healthcare setting.

It can slip into your bloodstream through a simple cut or scrape, or through an IV, a catheter or other tubes that enter the body. C. auris can even colonize your skin, living in folds and creases, and turning you into a carrier who can spread the fungus to your loved ones or surfaces in other settings.

“It will reach into every corner of the country for sure,” said Dr. Peter Pappas, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “The question is going to be how well can we control it?”

“By the time it shows up in a hospital, you know it’s been in the community for quite some time,” he said. “It’s just unclear how long that would be.”

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Who’s at risk from C. auris?

With new research suggesting that fungal infections now account for around six percent of all global deaths, it’s vital to know what your risks are when it comes to C. auris.

The good news is that while anyone can be exposed to the fungus, most of us are able to fight it off.

However, some people are more susceptible than others. Those at the highest risk from the fungus are people who:

  • Have been hospitalized for a long time
  • Are in a nursing home
  • Have a history of treatment with antifungal medications or antibiotics
  • Have a compromised immune system due to issues like cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Suppose you visit someone in a hospital or healthcare facility. In that case, the best recommendation to prevent C. auris infection is to regularly wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

If C. auris does continue its spread across our country, it’s vital to keep in mind the risk level for you and your family.

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Worldwide fungal deaths twice as high as previously thought, research shows — The Telegraph

Increase in C. auris infection spurs new CDC measures — UCLA Health

Washington state faces first outbreak of a deadly fungal infection that’s on the rise in the US — NBCnews.com

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.