There’s a life-threatening type of fungus emerging in Florida, and it’s resistant to drugs

Candida auris cases. Credit: CDC

If you’re not aware of this yet, there’s a life-threatening type of fungus emerging in Florida, called Candida auris (C. auris).

It’s considered an “urgent,” global threat because it’s resistant to multiple anti-fungal drugs, according  to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Clinical cases of C. auris have been reported in 13 states and Washington D.C., according to the CDC, which tracks the data.

Of that group, Florida is fourth in the number of clinical cases. The highest numbers are in New York (388); Illinois (227); New Jersey (137); and Florida (24), as of Aug. 31. Overall, 806 confirmed cases have been reported, and 30 probable cases.

New numbers will be coming soon, according to CDC officials.

Florida Health Department updates have stated that, “We are actively identifying cases in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. This important emerging fungal pathogen causes invasive infections, can be misidentified using standard laboratory methods, persists in the environment, and is transmitted in health care settings. The spread of C. auris may be particularly high in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities which provide ventilator care.”

C. auris is life threatening and “spreads mostly in long-term healthcare facilities among patients with severe medical problems,” according to a new report called “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States 2019.”

“It seemed hard to believe. CDC fungal experts had never received a report describing a Candida infection resistant to all antifungal medications, let
alone Candida that spreads easily between patients,” the report states.

“After hearing the news that infections like this were identified by international colleagues in 2016, CDC sounded the alarm in the United States about C. auris, a life-threatening Candida species.”

Four different strains of C. auris have emerged around the world, including in the United States, “likely introduced through international travel,” according to the report.

Florida is involved in all four of the strains: The South American strain— Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts; the African strain— California, Florida, Indiana;  the South Asian strain — California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and the East Asian strain— Florida, New York.