BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns about a potentially deadly fungus that’s spreading through hospitals. Cases have been reported across the U.S., including Louisiana.
It’s called Candida auris and is spreading at hospitals and nursing homes. It’s not new, however, according to the CDC, the rise of the virus is an “urgent threat.”
“It’s much more resistant to antifungal medications, which can make treatment of infections challenging and colonizes their skin so they can shut it into the environment where it can last for long periods of time. And it spreads easily because of that in health care settings,” explained Dr. Meghan Lyman, CDC epidemiologist.
Lyman said normally yeast lives in the environment but Candida auris spreads from person to person. It can be deadly for people who have weak immune systems.
“These are patients who are on ventilators and have invasive devices. They’ve often been exposed to lots of antibiotics and antifungal medications,” she said.
Even those who are healthy should still be concerned about infection.
“We get colonized with this organism. It may or may not be drug-resistant, and then we could transmit it unwillingly to a loved one who’s sick,” stated Jeffery Hobden, LSU Health associate professor of microbiology, immunology & parasitology.
There are currently 50 cases in Louisiana and seven of those patients have died. Health experts expect that number to grow.
“About 75% of our cases have been identified in the greater New Orleans area, that there are more cases in other parts of the state that just not have been identified yet,” said Theresa Sokol, Louisiana Department of Health epidemiologist.
Experts said the best way to stop the spread of the fungus is by having strict hand hygiene, taking precautions with who you interact and doing daily cleaning.