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Pittsburgh doctors area sound alarm for deadly fungal superbug



A deadly fungus that overwhelms the major antifungal drugs is slowly spreading to the United States, prompting Western Pennsylvania's infectious disease doctors to prepare for its possible arrival.

The fungus, called Candida auris, has been confirmed in York and New Jersey, but there have been no reported cases in Pennsylvania, according to the State Department of Health. Since March, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 617 cases nationwide.

"It is only a matter of time to see the spread of these organisms," said Dr. Tom Walsch, an infectious disease specialist and medical director of the Algeni General Hospital in Pittsburgh. "We learn a lot from all the places that have it."

Nate Wardell, a spokeswoman for the health department, said healthcare institutions were required to report a confirmed case. It also shares all information with healthcare institutions through regular communications and health alert networks, among other things.

The CDC believes that the fungus is a "serious global health threat." In addition to the confirmed cases in 1

2 countries, more than 20 countries have reported cases of Candida auris, according to data collected by the CDC.

"Mortality is very high," said Dr. Amesh Adalya, senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Health Care Center and a Pittsburgh-infected physician. "This is a very difficult microorganism to deal with."

Adalja said the people most at risk are patients who already have a chronic illness or a compromised immune system, as well as patients already admitted to a health facility.

The fungus can cause bloodstream infections, wound infections and ear infections, according to the CDC.

The sponge can be difficult to diagnose, as conventional lab tests can lead to misidentification and inappropriate treatment, making it difficult to control the spread of Candida auris

It is difficult to treat because it is often resistant to common antifungal medicines and is usually found in health care facilities – including hospitals and homes – where it can spread rapidly. Some strains can be treated with high doses of multiple drugs, but some are completely resistant, according to the CDC.

It is difficult to prevent

Adalja said he is not very average man can do to prevent the appearance of fungi from outside. normal hygiene practices such as hand washing. Often there are no symptoms until it develops significantly. "It is difficult for the general public to take concrete action."

Dr. Graeme Snyder, Director of Infection Prevention at UPMC, said there were so many unknowns about Candida auris that it was hard to know exactly what to expect.

"What's interesting about this bug-and there's still a lot to be learned-I do not know where it comes from," he said. "It appears in several different places around the world at the same time." Currently, it is usually located in health care facilities, but this is not always the case.

He mentions MRSA infections as an example of drug-resistant bugs, which began only in medical institutions, but after a few years, began to show up elsewhere. Infections are now reported in places like schools and athletes who exercise a lot of physical contact.

"It's very early in the history of Candida auris," Snyder said. "It's hard to tell a person to say," You have to make x, y, z to prevent Candida auris. "

However, hospitals are preparing for the day a patient can be diagnosed with fungi." Walsh said Allen's health network had begun to do more extensive tests when the patient had positive results for any kind Candidate to ensure that Candida auris is not present

Walsh says early identification is of key importance because the sooner the patient is diagnosed, the sooner the hospital can be isolated and cured, before it spreads to other patients, but we want is to make sure we're in front of him, "he says.You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, emilybalser@tribweb.com or via Twitter






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