The rapidly spreading fungus Candida auris poses a severe health risk to people in long-term care facilities and hospitals.
Recently, it has infected and killed some of the nation’s most vulnerable people. Now, cases are popping up in Metro Detroit.
“We have up to 190 to 200 cases in the state of Michigan, just like the rest of the nation, you know, we are struggling with this new challenge,” said Corporate Medical Director for Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Prevention at Detroit Medical Center, Dr. Teena Chopra. “It’s an emerging pathogen.”
Chopra says the fungus Candida aris should be taken very seriously.
“It is transmitted through the environment,” Chopra said. “It is transmitted through unclean hands, you know, and from person to person, from healthcare workers to others.”
The fungal infection attacks wounds, ears and the bloodstream and are primarily known to victimize the elderly in nursing homes, hospitals, or hospice care.
“That’s why it’s very important that we have more resources in long-term care facilities,” Chopra said. “We have more resources for our seniors in nursing homes. And when I say resources, more infection control personnel, more knowledge and education around infection prevention, and last but not least, private rooms.”
Unfortunately, the fungus seems to be spreading at an alarming rate, and it is drug-resistant, at least at this time.
Depending on where you are, labs might not even be able to pick up on the fungus, which can potentially be deadly.
“It is worrisome because it carries a very high mortality,” Chopra said. “The mortality if you get infected with yours, the mortality can be as high as 50%.”
The good news is the Detroit Medical Center has advanced fungal detection testing available to catch the infection before it’s too late. Hand washing is also one of the best ways to prevent it.