As if hospitals weren’t already dangerous enough, a new threat has emerged, and it’s giving health officials a run for their money. The Candida auris (C. auris) superbug may spread easily in hospitals and be hard to treat, but you can protect yourself and your loved ones by staying informed. We have the information you need on this nasty new infection.
C. auris outbreaks have been reported in over 30 countries, including the United States, and some strains of the new superbug are immune to all potential treatments. Roughly one in three patients who develops a severe infection dies. C. auris can survive on surfaces and spread via physical contact. Usually only people with compromised immune systems get infected, but all people should take precautions when visiting hospitals and nursing homes. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and keep surfaces disinfected. Find out what you need to know about the Candida auris superbug below.
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Outbreaks Across the World
Outbreaks of C. auris have popped up in over 30 countries across the globe, but health officials fear the illness could be even more widespread than reported. The infection has shown up across the United States, with verified cases in 12 states and the East Coast being the hardest hit. The CDC believes the U.S. cases likely originated from residents who received inpatient healthcare in India, Kenya, Kuwait, Pakistan, South America, the United Arab Emirates or Venezuela.
Roughly one in three people who develop severe C. auris infections die. This typically occurs when the fungus travels to a vital organ or infects the blood. Some strains are immune to all antifungal medications, making them especially dangerous.
- auris is a yeast, which is a type of fungus. It can thrive nearly anywhere, and it can transfer easily via infected surfaces or person-to-person contact. It’s most prevalent in healthcare settings, spreading most easily in hospitals and nursing homes.
The infection usually strikes people with compromised immune systems, so the sick and elderly are most at risk. Central venous catheters and breathing or drainage tubes can increase the possibility of transmission, as can previous treatment with certain antimicrobial medications.
The symptoms of C. auris can vary depending on which part of the body it takes hold. Because it usually affects people who are already ill, catching the infection before it becomes serious can be difficult. Sometimes, the only notable symptoms are a fever and chills that don’t respond to antibiotics.
- auris can cause ear infections and even infect broken skin. There’s speculation it may also be able to colonize in the lungs and urinary tract, but neither has been definitively confirmed.
How to Protect Yourself
Most healthy people are safe from infection, but if you’re regularly visiting someone in the hospital, or if you’re a patient, hygiene is your first line of defense. Regular handwashing with soap and water works best, although hand sanitizer also offers some protection.
Be especially cautious if you or someone you know requires hospitalization outside the United States, especially if it’s in one of the countries listed above. Doctors and other staff should always wash their hands and use fresh gloves when examining a new patient. If you’re caring for someone with C. auris, wear disposable gloves for wound dressing or help with bathing.
Most of us may be safe from catching this deadly bug, but it’s still a major concern within hospital settings. Because it spreads so easily, it’s up to everyone to keep it as contained as possible. No matter how healthy you are, make sure your hands are clean, especially after you’ve visited a hospital. You might not catch anything, but someone else could.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!
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