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'Superbug' fungus resistant to major drugs is found in two cities

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'Superbug' fungus resistant to major drugs is found in two cities

A 'superbug' fungus that is resistant to common drugs has been found in two hospitals and a nursing home, health officials have revealed.

The fungus was identified at a nursing home in Washington, DC and two hospitals in Dallas, Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The two outbreaks included about 120 patients in total.

Of those, infections in five patients were resistant to all types of antifungal medications and three patients died.

This fungus is considered a 'serious global health threat' by the CDC, and evidence from these new outbreaks shows that it spreads from person to person - not just from treatments or hospital surfaces.

CDC officials announced new, drug-resistant fungal outbreaks in two Dallas hospitals and a Washington, DC nursing home on Thursday.

The fungus, called Candida auris, is a harmful form of yeast. It's considered dangerous to hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems.

'This is really the first time we've started seeing clustering of resistance,' said Dr Meghan Lyman, medical officer at the CDC.

In these 'clusters,' patients appear to be getting infections from each other. 

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This is distinct from past outbreaks, when the fungus spread through direct contact with patients or on contaminated surfaces.

The CDC considers this fungus a 'serious global health threat' because commonly used drugs have little effect on infections.

In a 2019 outbreak, doctors found that three cases of infection with this fungus were resistant to a class of drugs called echinocandins. This drug type is considered a last line of defense.

A few infection cases in these 2021 outbreaks were similarly resistant to common antifungal drugs.

Among 101 cases at the Washington, D.C. nursing home, three were resistant to all three kinds of antifungal medications.

Among 22 cases at the two Dallas hospitals, two had this level of resistance.

Three of those patients died - both patients in Texas and one in Washington.

C. auris has become an increasing concern since it was first identified by the CDC in 2015.

By 2018, over 300 clinical cases had been identified in a year.

About 90 percent of those cases were resistant to at least one antifungal drug and 30 percent were resistant to at least two, according the CDC.

Between May 2020 and April 2021 alone, about 950 clinical cases have been identified.

California, Florida, New York, and Illinois are all hotspots for the fungus with over 100 cases identified during that 12-month period.

In past cases, there was no evidence that infection spread from patient to patient - so scientists concluded that drug resistance formed during treatment.

But during these new outbreaks, infection did spread from patient to patient, according to CDC investigators.

This finding indicates that the fungus may become an even greater public health threat in coming years. 

Reference: Daily Mail: Associated Press and Betsy Ladyzhets For Dailymail.Com

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