Story at a glance
- Two patients in a New Orleans hospital have been infected with a drug-resistant fungus called candida auris.
- The fungus is a type of yeast that has been found in at least 20 states across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The CDC considers the yeast to be an emerging global threat.
Two patients at the University Medical Center in New Orleans have been infected with a rare and drug-resistant fungus.
The infections are the first time the fungus, a type of yeast called candida auris, has been detected in Louisiana. The yeast has been found in at least 19 other states including California, Texas, Illinois and Florid as well as in Washington, D.C., according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Aug. 21 of last year, over 1,100 cases of the fungus have been diagnosed across the United States, according to the CDC. New York has reported the most cases with 285 in total, followed by California with 245 and Illinois with 243 cases.
Several health care facilities across the globe have reported patients becoming ill with a candida auris infection, which does not respond to commonly used antifungal drugs, according to the CDC. It is also difficult to identify using standard laboratory methods.
As a result, the CDC considers the yeast an emerging global threat, warning that those who are most risk are patients who have been in health care facilities for long periods of time and have a line or tubes in the body like central venous catheter or feeding tube.
The two patients have the first two known infections of the fungus and hospital physicians believe there are most likely other undetected cases, according to The Times-Picayune/ The New Orleans Advocate.
More cases are probably to be found, Medical Director of Transplant Infections Diseases at Tulane University School of Medicine Dr. Alfred Luk told The Associated Press (AP).
“I know everyone is exhausted from alarmist news, but I’m really concerned about it,” Luk told the AP. “Usually when we find this … I equate it to the tip of the iceberg.”
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