Healthcare News & Insights

Newest superbug hospitals must worry about

It’s become even more critical for hospitals to get their antibiotic use under control. Here’s why: A new superbug is poised to cause harm to patients, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just issued a warning to hospitals about the bacteria. 

137875947The latest superbug is Candida auris, a drug-resistant fungus, according to an article in USA Today. And so far, four hospital patients who contracted the infection have died.

Candida auris first showed up in Japan in 2009, and it spread to several other countries overseas before showing up in the U.S. in 2013. Infection from the fungus is still relatively rare – the CDC’s identified 13 cases of the infection over the last three years.

But, according to a CDC press release, almost half of those cases have been identified in the last few months, so the agency is describing the fungus as the nation’s next “emerging threat” for healthcare facilities to monitor.

The CDC issued a detailed report discussing the impact of seven of the 13 cases it’s identified so far. Candida auris has been found in four states: Maryland, Illinois, New Jersey and New York. Each patient had serious medical conditions when they were infected by the fungus.

In two of the cases, two people contracted nearly identical strains of the fungus while staying in the same hospital or long-term care facility. This indicates that Candida auris is likely spread through healthcare settings.

It can be tough to distinguish Candida auris from other Candida strains that can infect patients in hospitals. In fact, most cases were only discovered after patients were discharged since special tests must be ordered to identify Candida auris.

Controlling infection

While the Candida auris fungus is drug-resistant, different strains are more receptive to treatment. So far, the strains identified in the U.S. have some drug resistance, but they can still be treated by certain antifungal drugs, which is good news for hospitals.

However, facilities shouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. There’s still a significant chance that other strains of Candida auris can make their way to U.S. hospitals. The CDC’s currently working to understand exactly how the fungus spreads.

In the meantime, hospitals should do what they can to keep the superbug under control.

Right now, the CDC recommends that, if providers suspect that a patient’s been infected with the Candida fungus, the person’s room should be cleaned daily with an EPA-registered disinfectant that’s active against the fungus. The room should also be cleaned with this disinfectant after the patient’s been discharged.

Additionally, hospitals must report any suspected cases of Candida auris to the CDC. The agency can help hospitals confirm the strain and give them strategies to approach treatment.

And, as always, antibiotic stewardship is crucial to keeping superbugs like the Candida auris fungus from becoming entirely resistant to drug treatments.

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