CDC Calls for Action on Fungal Infection Threat

"It appears that C. auris arrived in the United States only in the past few years," said Dr. Tom Chiller, M.D., MPH, chief of CDC's Mycotic Diseases Branch. "We're working hard with partners to better understand this fungus and how it spreads so we can improve infection control recommendations and help protect people."

CDC has identified 13 cases of Candida auris, the first to be identified in the United States, describing it as a serious and sometimes fatal fungal infection that is emerging globally. Seven of the cases occurred between May 2013 and August 2016 and are described in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, while the others were identified after the period covered by the report and remain under investigation.

According to the agency, C. auris is often resistant to antifungal drugs and tends to occur in hospitalized patients. CDC issued a clinical alert in June 2016 that describes the global emergence of C. auris and requesting that laboratories report C. auris cases and send patient samples to state and local health departments and to CDC. Several cases are now being investigated, and CDC expects to continue to investigate possible cases as awareness of the emerging infection increases.

"We need to act now to better understand, contain, and stop the spread of this drug-resistant fungus," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH, said. "This is an emerging threat, and we need to protect vulnerable patients and others."

The seven earlier cases were reported in four states: New York, Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey. All of those patients had serious underlying medical conditions and had been hospitalized an average of 18 days when C. auris was identified. Four of the patients died, but it is not clear whether the deaths were associated with C. auris infection or underlying health conditions, CDC reported.

Two of the patients had been treated in the same hospital or long-term-care facility and had nearly identical fungal strains, which suggests C. auris could be spread in health care settings.

"It appears that C. auris arrived in the United States only in the past few years," said Dr. Tom Chiller, M.D., MPH, chief of CDC's Mycotic Diseases Branch. "We're working hard with partners to better understand this fungus and how it spreads so we can improve infection control recommendations and help protect people."

The agency recommends that health care professionals implement strict Standard and Contact Precautions to control the spread of C. auris. Facilities should conduct thorough daily and after-discharge cleaning of rooms of C. auris patients with an EPA-registered disinfectant active against fungi, and all cases should be reported to CDC and state and local health departments.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/candida-auris.html.

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