Five cases of highly infectious fungus reported at UK HealthCare

Five cases of an invasive fungus resistant to antibiotics have been reported at UK HealthCare, the hospital system said Tuesday.

Candida auris is a pathogenic yeast fungus identified as an increasing threat. It can cause invasive infections in parts of the body like the bloodstream or respiratory tract, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People can have the fungus present on their skin without becoming infected, the CDC said, and it is most likely to affect people who are already sick.

There have been five cases reported at UK HealthCare, all of which are not causing an active infection. All five cases have been reported on patients’ skin, according to UK HealthCare, and the patients have been isolated to one floor of UK Chandler Hospital.

“Our team quickly identified the pathogen and began isolation and disinfection precautions to prevent further transmission,” the hospital said in a statement.

In March, the CDC identified Candida auris as an increasing threat after it spread at a higher rate in American health care facilities in 2020-2021. In general, it is not a threat to people who are healthy, the CDC said.

“CDC has deemed C. auris as an urgent (antimicrobial resistance) threat, because it is often resistant to multiple antifungal drugs, spreads easily in healthcare facilities, and can cause severe infections with high death rates,” according to the CDC.

In 2021, the number of cases of the fungus that was resistant to echinocandins, the antifungal medicine most often recommended for treatment, tripled.

“People who are very sick, have invasive medical devices, or have long or frequent stays in healthcare facilities are at increased risk for acquiring C. auris,” according to the CDC. “CDC has deemed C. auris as an urgent AR threat, because it is often resistant to multiple antifungal drugs, spreads easily in healthcare facilities, and can cause severe infections with high death rates.”