Deadly ‘Drug-Resistant’ Superbug Spreading Across New York State
Top New York officials are trying to keep residents safe from a deadly and drug-resistant superbug that kills around 60 percent of those infected.
Last month we reported a rare, but potentially fatal and drug-resistant fungus that's spreading in New York and across the country at an alarming rate.
CDC: Deadly Fungal Infection Spreading Across New York
In late March, the CDC deemed Candida auris (C. auris) an "urgent threat."
"It is often resistant to multiple antifungal drugs, spreads easily in healthcare facilities, and can cause severe infections with high death rates," the CDC states in its alert.
Candida auris also spread at an alarming rate in U.S. healthcare facilities in 2017 and 2020-2021, according to the CDC.
"Equally concerning was a tripling in 2021 of the number of cases that were resistant to echinocandins, the antifungal medicine most recommended for treatment of C. auris infections. In general, C. auris is not a threat to healthy people. People who are very sick, have invasive medical devices, or have long or frequent stays in healthcare facilities are at increased risk for acquiring C. auris," the CDC said.
Cases have increased for a number of reasons, including better efforts to detect cases and poor general infection prevention and control practices in healthcare facilities, officials say.
New York State Has 3rd Most Cases In The Nation
In the past 12 months, New York State has confirmed 326 cases of Candida auris, according to the CDC.
“The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control,” CDC epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Lyman said.
Only Nevada (384) and California (359) have more confirmed cases, as of this writing.
New York State Highlights Efforts Aimed at Keeping New Yorkers Safe
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul recently highlighted "long-standing state efforts to prevent potentially life-threatening fungal infections from Candida auris, which are spreading at an increasing pace nationwide."
"Our best tool to address emerging public health threats is being able to identify them before they begin to rapidly spread," Hochul said. "While the CDC report on this drug-resistant fungus is concerning, our ability to track these infections is nation-leading and continues to help us take the aggressive action needed to contain this threat and ensure our health care facilities are safe."
Hochul's office highlighted several ways officials are trying to keep New Yorkers safe.
"In addition to having a nation-leading surveillance model, the New York State Department of Health has worked with healthcare providers since 2016 to identify these fungal infections and take precautions to prevent the multidrug-resistant yeast from spreading in high-risk settings, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities. The Department of Health continues to provide guidance and assistance to hospitals and nursing homes to strengthen readiness, enhance surveillance, and implement effective infection prevention and control measures for Candida auris," Hochul's Office stated in a press release.
Candida auris can be spread in healthcare settings through contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment, or from physical contact with a person who is infected or colonized, according to the New York State of Health.
"It's important that people understand that there is little risk from Candida auris to the general public. Candida auris typically infects people who are already sick, it is preventable by thorough hand washing and cleaned surfaces as well as personal protective equipment," Acting Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said.
In past years most of the cases in New York were found among hospital patients and nursing home residents.
“What’s also unique about this organism is that it can actually stay on skin surfaces for prolonged periods of time, even months after the initial infection is cured,” Dr. Neil Gaffin told CBS. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing and a burning sensation.
The New York Post reports the superbug is fatal 60 percent of the time.