For the first time, cases of a deadly fungal infection resistant to all existing treatments have spread to nursing homes and hospitals in the United States, health officials said.
Outbreaks of Candida auris, an emerging yeast infection first identified in Asia in 2009, have been reported in a nursing home in Washington DC and two hospitals in Dallas, Texas.
Among the cases, there were several that were unresponsive to all three major drug classes.
“This is truly the first time that resistance clustering has been observed,” in which patients appear to have contracted each other, ”said Dr. Megan Lyman, a medical officer at the hospital. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Candida auris is a harmful form of yeast that is considered dangerous for hospital patients and nursing homes with serious health problems. It is most dangerous if it enters the bloodstream, heart, or brain.
Outbreaks in healthcare settings were caused by a fungus that the CDC has classified as an “urgent” threat, spreading through patient contact or on contaminated surfaces.
Health officials have sounded the alarm about the superbug for years after seeing infections for which commonly used medications had little effect.
In 2019, doctors diagnosed three cases in New York that were also resistant to a class of drugs called echinocandins, which were considered the last line of defense.
In these cases, no evidence of patient-to-patient transmission was found. Scientists concluded that drug resistance developed during treatment.
However, new incurable cases seen between January and April this year have indeed spread, the CDC said.
A group of 101 cases of Candida auris in a nursing home for critically ill in Washington, DC included three cases resistant to all three types of antifungal drugs. A group of 22 people in two hospitals in the Dallas area included two with this level of resistance. No objects identified.
Of the five people who are completely resistant to treatment, three have died – patients from Texas and one in Washington.
Dr Lyman said both outbreaks are ongoing and additional infections have been identified since April. The added numbers were not reported.
The researchers reviewed medical records and found no evidence of previous use of antifungal drugs in patients in these groups. Health officials say this means they are spread from person to person.
Further information from the Associated Press